May 1, 2017
Before we talk about the Russian Grand Prix weekend let’s have a quick recap of what our drivers did last time out in Bahrain. Bahrain was a really disappointing race for Toro Rosso: we were expecting a lot but Sainz made contact with Lance Stroll moments after his pitstop and ended his race, and Kvyat finished in twelfth after struggling with pace in the race, meaning we come away from Bahrain empty-handed.
After the Grand Prix we had a two-day in-season test, this hopefully would give us chance to gather more data and test new parts. First day our test driver Sean Gelael took to the track and completed 78 laps. Here’s what he had to say:
“Today is a day I will never forget—to finally drive a Formula One car is something every driver dreams of, and to do it with Scuderia Toro Rosso makes it even more special. The power and overall grip is amazing…compared to the Formula Two car I drive.”
On day two our two regular guys took over—Kvyat drove in the morning and did 61 laps, and Sainz later in the day completed 68 laps.
Talking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Kvyat said: ”The first thing that comes to my mind is Sebastian, as in Sebastian Vettel. I like to torpedo Sebastian, it’s my hobby. You know I’m joking!” Kvyat also added a picture of himself riding a torpedo to his helmet design this weekend just to continue the joke.
Sainz added: “I’ve learnt a few Russian words thanks to my team mate, Daniil. I think it’s best that I don’t tell you which words he’s taught me…”
On Wednesday it was Daniil’s 23rd birthday and he got to celebrate it in his home country, while learning how to play curling with the Russian national team, which he said he really enjoyed and liked trying new things.
Later that day Kvyat also presented his book, Daniil Kvyat: The Path to Formula One, all about the early stages of his career. As soon as the English version is released I will be purchasing it.
Thursday arrived and it was time for the track walk on a sunny afternoon. Sainz posted a video on Twitter talking about the hairstyles of his race engineers while on the walk, and when they returned to the garage it was time for a huge chocolate birthday cake for Kvyat.
Later that day Kvyat joined Bottas and Grosjean at the drivers’ press conference to face the world’s media, before taking to the stage to speak to his home fans. Meanwhile, Sainz was back onto autograph duty.
Friday arrived and it was time for free practice. In FP1 home hero Kvyat finished eleventh and Sainz fourteenth, and in FP2 Sainz was fifteenth and Kvyat seventeenth. Both drivers were disappointed and said the car was lacking a lot of speed.
On Saturday Sainz ended FP3 in ninth with Kvyat thirteenth. With both drivers still unhappy but with little time to make changes we head into qualifying. Our boys ended in eleventh and thirteenth with Sainz coming out on top, but his three-place grid penalty from Bahrain dropped him to fourteenth and moved Kvyat up to twelfth for his home race. Both drivers said they were much happier with their qualifying positions than their Friday pace.
Sunday meant race day, and with Kvyat starting twelfth and Sainz fourteenth points would be tough but still the aim. As the lights went out Sainz made the better start up to eleventh while Kvyat held onto twelfth place, and in the early laps both boys were looking good.
After the pit stops the race calmed right down and nothing much happened for our boys in the remaining laps: Daniil ended the race where he started in twelfth, but Carlos took a point in tenth. Both drivers struggled with race pace and overtaking was difficult this weekend, but to leave Russia with one point was better than we left Bahrain.
Afterwards, Sainz commented: “What a tough race, especially as we were starting from behind because of the grid penalty… But today we got everything right: the start, the first lap, the pit-stop, the strategy…so we can be happy!”
Kvyat added: “My start today wasn’t the best and I lost a bit of time there. During my pit stop we…got undercut by Stroll and during my second stint I was unfortunately blue-flagged quite a lot and lost some more time having to let the leading cars by.
“On a positive note, the last part of the race in clean air, was fantastic—we were flying and the car felt great!”
Richard Hindson, F1 Correspondent