Toro Rosso’s surprise signing Daniil Kvyat can adapt to Formula 1 machinery as quickly as Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa did, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz believes.
Kvyat, 19, won the scrap for the second Toro Rosso seat next year despite having never raced beyond Formula 3/GP3 level and having just 22 laps in an F1 car under his belt.
Despite that, Mateschitz says the “remarkable” progress he has already shown in the junior ranks suggests he is capable of making a rapid adjustment to grand prix racing, in much the same manner as Raikkonen and Massa, who started their F1 careers with Sauber when Red Bull sponsored the Swiss team. Mateschitz said it was that belief that made Kvyat, and not Formula Renault 3.5 front-runner Antonio Felix da Costa, the logical choice.
Raikkonen jumped to Formula 1 straight from Formula Renault.
“If you look on Raikkonen or Massa, how quickly they adjusted with little experience in minor formulae to F1, Kvyat can do this too, we believe,” said Mateschitz. “We watched how Daniil improved in F3 and GP3 this season, [and] his progress was remarkable in many ways.
“We also gained the impression that he got more mature, from a boy to a young man. Felix had his ups and downs: he was sometimes very quick but not in a constant way.
“Finally, Kvyat is only 19 and da Costa 22. That fact made the decision easier.”
Toro Rosso confirmed that it hopes to run Kvyat in Friday practice at both the United States and Brazilian Grands Prix later this year in a bid to get him mileage.