Daniil Kvyat believes his year out of racing in 2018 has helped his mental state as he prepares to return in 2019. Toro Rosso confirmed on Saturday that the Russian would be back in one of its seats next season, replacing Red Bull-bound Pierre Gasly.
Kvyat first raced for Toro Rosso in 2014, before gaining promotion to Red Bull in 2015. However, after being pushed back down to the junior squad to be replaced by Max Verstappen, Kvyat failed to bounce back before being dropped from the Red Bull programme entirely towards the end of 2017.
He was picked up by Ferrari and has worked with the Italian squad as one of its development drivers throughout 2018. But as he prepares to be back in the cockpit next year, he says that the year out has had a positive impact on him.
“Well, talking about better place, it’s hard to say. One thing I know for sure is that I’m very positive now, very happy to be back. But you cannot be happy forever. You have to acknowledge there is a lot of work ahead.
“I’ve been working on myself a lot this year. It’s very important I think to be in a good mental window with yourself, and this year, it’s exactly what I was focusing on, even though some days it wasn’t certain that I was going to be coming back. Once I knew, I was confident that it was going to be very positive.”
Kvyat also thanked Ferrari for taking him on after he was left without a drive: “I obviously chose to go to Ferrari as a development driver last year. I’m very pleased with how it went,” Kvyat said.
"Obviously a big thanks to Ferrari and [team principal] Maurizio Arrivabene. They were very supportive to me. They were very helpful. I know that my job has been helpful, and it was about development, a lot of things on the simulator, working on the car also during a race weekend, so we were supporting the race team from the factory trying to find the correct setup and optimise the setup how they wanted.
“Usually it’s always worked very well while I was there, and I really enjoyed it to be honest. I know it’s not the same as racing, but also it makes me very happy to be racing back in Formula 1.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing