FORGOTTEN Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat is back in the frame for a shock return to Red Bull development outfit Toro Rosso in 2019.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has reportedly made an approach to Daniel Ricciardo’s former teammate with an offer to have the 24-year-old run with Toro Rosso for the third time in his career.
Kvyat was picked up by Ferrari as a development driver after he was moved on from Toro Rosso during the 2017 season.
It was the second demotion for Kvyat in recent seasons. He was also bumped down to Toro Rosso in May, 2016, to allow Max Verstappen to make the jump to the senior Red Bull team.
Red Bull’s reported interest in Kvyat shows how desperate the team is to find a replacement for Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who will be promoted to partner Verstappen in Red Bull’s senior line-up in 2019.
It has left Toro Rosso with only unproven Kiwi Brendon Hartley on its books for next year.
Toro Rosso reportedly also has interest in offering its second driver’s seat to McLaren development driver Lando Norris, Ferrari development driver, Antonio Giovinazzi or out-of-favour McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who reportedly may be left without a drive in 2019.
Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost told motorsport.com recently he is waiting for Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko and team principal Christian Horner to make up their mind.
“There are different names which are being discussed but up to now no decision has been made,” he said.
“So therefore we just wait and Red Bull will announce it.”
RICCIARDO REVEALS AWKWARD RED BULL RETURN
DANIEL Ricciardo has revealed he expected to walk into a frosty garage when he returned to his team at the Belgium Grand Prix for the first time since announcing his decision to join Renault in 2019.
The Aussie driver’s two-year deal with the French team left Red Bull boss Christian Horner stunned and it left him nervous about the type of reception his teammates would give him at Spa and at the Milton Keynes Red Bull headquarters before the grand prix.
“I’m honestly happy to say that the impact was really minimal, minimal discomfort,” He said at Monza ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“On Thursday I was sure I expected some level (of discomfort), either on the team or with the media.
“But I thought it was even like at the press conference, where everything was pretty quiet, and not many people asked too much, so I thought everyone seemed respectful.
“I had the opportunity to see Christian at the factory before the weekend, so I went to some of the guys then and I think they all understood.”
“I think the main thing for them was that it was not personal, it was not like I was bothered by one of the mechanics and said ‘I’m leaving’.”
“I think they understood it and a lot of people in Formula 1 as well.”
He said he has had no regrets since signing his new contract with Renault.
“No, I don’t. I’m aware that at the moment the structure at Red Bull is stronger. I’ve certainly switched my mindset to a longer term project, to yellow,” he said.
“I felt good when I signed it. I feel I know what I’m getting in to.”
RENAULT BOSS SEES ‘IRONY’ IN RICCIARDO COUP
RENAULT boss Cyril Abiteboul says he can see the delicious “irony” of Daniel Ricciardo jumping ship to his team next season with the smoke still clearing from the Red Bull-Renault power unit feud.
Abiteboul and Horner have traded grumpy accusations since Red Bull announced its decision to switch to Honda engines in 2019 after a disappointing year of unreliability and underperformance with Renault power units in 2018.
Despite Renault’s inability to compete with Ferrari and Mercedes, reports claim Renault’s head-to-head superior performance than Honda was one of the reasons Ricciardo agreed to jump teams.
When asked by Australian Formula 1 journalist Stewart Bell if it was sweet to steal Red Bull’s star driver after his personal slanging match with opposite Christian Horner, Abiteboul responded: “Not sweeter. It’s a bit of irony, but when you are in Formula 1 you’re always challenging, you always compete for given results, whether you’re talking about a sponsor, engineer, or a driver against one of your competitors.
“I’m fine. It’s not the reason why we’ve targeted Daniel, obviously.”
Abiteboul also said his team’s honesty in a Formula 1 industry which he described as “arrogant,” may have also helped them lure Ricciardo.
“We’ve been presenting the project in a very honest and humble manner,” he said.
“We’ve not tried to portray a situation that was different from the one that he will find. And I don’t want to see any disappointment or frustration when he first drives for us, whenever that will be. So I think it’s actually our honesty, our simplicity that maybe has paid off.
“It doesn’t always pay off in the world of Formula One, which can be sometimes full of arrogance. And I think he liked the fact that we are very determined in our ambitions but we are not taking ourselves seriously enough to lie about the situation in which we are.”
RICCIARDO’S HULK WARNING
DANIEL Ricciardo is walking into another red-hot teammate battle at Renault, according to former Formula 1 star Sergio Perez.
Ricciardo’s Renault teammate in 2019 will be Nico Hulkenberg, who has significantly out-performed teammate Carlos Sainz in 2018 with 52 championship points compared to the Red Bull loan driver’s 30 points.
Perez, who raced three seasons with Hulkenberg as Force India teammates from 2014-2016, said he expects the German driver to give Ricciardo an extraordinary challenge in their head-to-head battles.
“The Ricciardo to Renault [move] is quite an interesting one,” Perez told F1i.com.
“To have someone like him in the midfield will just show how strong the midfield is at the moment.
“I think if things stay the same for next year, and the midfield is so close together, he’s going to enjoy a lot of competitive battles.
“It will be interesting to see him with Hulkenberg as well because I think he’s going to have a hard time there with Nico.”