How Daniel Ricciardo bombshell saved a Red Bull driver’s career

Jamie Woodhouse
AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo.

AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo looks to the side.

Knocking on the door for an F1 return, Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko told Daniil Kvyat there was no room at the inn…until Daniel Ricciardo made it so there was.

Kvyat certainly had a dramatic part one in his Red Bull career, moving from junior team Toro Rosso to the main squad for 2015 after one season, but by early 2016, he found himself back at Toro Rosso with Max Verstappen taking over his Red Bull duties.

Kvyat left the Red Bull fold in 2017, but a year later he began reaching back out to Marko, trying to get himself back onto the F1 grid. Just days after Marko had said there was no opening, that all changed when Ricciardo made the shock decision to leave Red Bull.

Daniel Ricciardo to Renault was Daniil Kvyat F1 career-saver

Ricciardo decided that 2018 would be his final season with Red Bull at the time, announcing he would join Renault in a move which shocked the F1 paddock.

Marko then quickly gave Kvyat a call back to say he was in, having put himself back on the Red Bull radar with an impressive Ferrari test outing.

“My lap times were very competitive,” Kvyat told the official F1 website in regards to his 2018 spent as Ferrari’s reserve and simulator driver.

“You know, rumours go very fast in F1. I went to Montreal with Ferrari and I saw Christian [Horner team principal] and Helmut just to say hi and drink a coffee with them. recommends

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“They were very happy to see me and we had a good chat. At one point they said, ‘We heard your test went very well’, and I was like, ‘Well, yeah, I didn’t know you knew about it!’, but we kept in touch.

“I later gave Helmut a call, not out of desperation, but I needed to get back to F1. I said, ‘I’m ready to race, I think I would be a great asset for you now’, and he goes, ‘Okay, everything is closed, but I’ll let you know if something changes’.

“Three days after, I think, Daniel decided to go to Renault, Helmut called me and said, ‘What a timing, are you still interested?’ We shook hands and that was my way back in.”

Kvyat would race for Red Bull’s junior team across the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, Yuki Tsunoda then taking over his seat from 2021.

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