Daniil Kvyat rejected Ferrari contract to replace Kimi Raikkonen months before losing Red Bull seat

Sam Cooper
Daniil Kvyat with Kimi Raikkonen. Bahrain, April 2017.

Daniil Kvyat with Kimi Raikkonen. Bahrain, April 2017.

Daniil Kvyat said he rejected a contract with Ferrari only to find out he had lost his Red Bull seat a few months later.

Having come through the Red Bull junior driver programme, the Russian managed just one full season with the team before being moved on in 2016.

After just four races, Kvyat, who finished P7 in the 2015 championship, was replaced by a young Max Verstappen with the Dutchman going on to win his first race with the team.

While Verstappen’s star was rising, Kvyat’s was moving in the other direction. Following his demotion, he moved back to Toro Rosso only to lose his seat there in 2017 with six races to go to Pierre Gasly.

Kvyat then spent a year as Ferrari reserve driver before again returning to Toro Rosso, finishing P13 and P14 in his final seasons as a Formula 1 driver.

But the 28-year-old has revealed that the loss of that Red Bull seat was far more painful than many knew as he had only just rejected a contract from Ferrari.

Kvyat said the Italian team had lined him up to replace Kimi Räikkönen but he opted to stay with Red Bull.

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“I was performing really well,” he told the Track Limits podcast. “And I just scored another podium for the team [at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix] and then at the time I had also a proposal to race for Ferrari to replace Kimi. That was going on behind the curtain.

“So it was a very difficult situation also for me mentally to go back from being wanted by Ferrari and having seen the contract and then you go back to Toro Rosso suddenly and then you’re like, it’s not going very well suddenly.”

Kyvat was among a cohort of talented drivers to be emerging from the Red Bull academy during the 2010s including the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen, Gasly and Carlos Sainz but unlike the aforementioned, he has been unable to find a way back into the sport.

He last raced in 2020 for the newly branded AlphaTauri before spending a year as Alpine reserve driver.

Any potential return was made even more difficult following the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the FIA banning drivers from the country racing unless they did so under a neutral flag.

Kvyat has since landed a WEC drive with Prema Racing and finished P3 at the first event of the 2023 season.