Axed Red Bull star sensed writing on the wall in huge Helmut Marko claim

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko looking straight ahead in the Red Bull garage at the 2022 Austrian GP.

Helmut Marko looking straight ahead in the Red Bull garage.

After extensive talks with Ferrari failed to materialise into a move, Daniil Kvyat then got the feeling even before the 2016 season began that Helmut Marko wanted him replaced.

Kvyat’s Formula 1 career with Red Bull got off to a good start, earning promotion to the senior squad for 2015 after a year with Toro Rosso; come the early stages of 2016, his career took a major turn for the worse.

Kvyat received a nickname of ‘The Torpedo’ from former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel after their collision at the start of the Russian Grand Prix, which proved to be his last with Red Bull as he swapped seats with Red Bull’s rising star Max Verstappen, thus returning to Toro Rosso.

Daniil Kvyat sensed Helmut Marko already wanted him out

However, despite the seat swap happening at that time, Kvyat told the Formula 1 website that he felt something was brewing behind the scenes before this point, suspecting Marko “wanted to change drivers” before the 2016 campaign had even got underway, with a huge challenge set to get the better of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo every time.

“Helmut was like, ‘We need you to beat Daniel consistently every race, more or less’,” Kvyat revealed. “I was like, ‘Okay, let’s see, he’s not an idiot, but I’ll do my best like he will’.

“The first few races were tricky but there were clear improvements, like in China, then there was Sochi and obviously they needed this, so that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

The major setback in his F1 career came not long after Kvyat came close to a further breakthrough, with serious discussions having taken place in 2015 over a move to Ferrari.

Ultimately, his ties at Red Bull were too strong to break and the switch to Ferrari did not happen.

“I was approached by Ferrari, by [team boss] Maurizio Arrivabene,” Kvyat recalled. “They were like, ‘We want you to drive for us’, and we started talking a bit more and more.

“At the end it was clear it wasn’t [going to work] because my ties to Red Bull were quite strong. We carried on into 2016, there were improvements that year from the car, but not when I was there at the beginning.

“Then, of course, the famous change of teams…” recommends

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Daniil Kvyat had limited motivation for Toro Rosso return

Kvyat was back on Toro Rosso duties from the Spanish Grand Prix, scoring a point at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but it was an underwhelming return which culminated in Pierre Gasly replacing Kvyat from the latter stages of the 2017 campaign, Kvyat’s final outing coming at the United States Grand Prix.

Kvyat explained that he had very little motivation to return to Toro Rosso and it later became clear that he and Red Bull needed to go their separate ways, Kvyat securing that Ferrari move for 2018, but as their reserve driver this time.

“It started to be difficult times because my motivation was quite low to go back to Toro Rosso, another car that was a different philosophy,” Kvyat explained.

“Carlos [Sainz] was very hungry and confident with that car, and me, on the other hand, not hungry, not confident. There’s nothing [you can] do against a hungry Carlos with that mental approach.

“There were flashes of decent races, but it wasn’t the best season. In 2017 it was a slightly better approach, but still not quite there, and I think we were just growing apart with Red Bull – it was clear that we needed a break.

“So, 2018 was the year of the break and I became the Ferrari reserve and test driver. It was good there. I needed it just to eat, train and sleep, honestly.”

Kvyat would have a further stint with Red Bull, recalled to the fold for 2019 and sent to Toro Rosso, seeing in their rebranded AlphaTauri era the following year before departing again at the end of 2020.

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