Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat says he was anxious when the chance to rejoin the team for 2019 was offered.
However, after a productive and largely trouble-free pre-season, the Russian says driving a Formula One car is now a pleasure again.
Kvyat became Formula 1’s youngest points scorer at the time on his Toro Rosso debut in 2014, with his promotion to Red Bull arriving in 2015.
His career would soon nose-dive though and, after an incident with Sebastian Vettel at his home race in Russia in 2016, the team demoted him back to Toro Rosso with Max Verstappen heading the other way.
He was ultimately ditched by the team and from the Red Bull development driver programme altogether after the 2017 campaign.
But the 24-year-old told GPFans that anxiety over his 2019 return has now turned to pleasure.
“I was, to be fair, slightly anxious before the [Abu Dhabi] test,” Kvyat said during pre-season testing in Barcelona.
“I had been a long time away from an F1 car and from F1… from track action, let’s put it this way.
“It wasn’t an easy few days leading up to it, but really happy days in another way also.
“Also, [there was] a question mark of how things would go after so long away – generally, the driving.
“Within five laps I was back to normal, and like Franz [Tost, team principal] said, it didn’t feel like I had been away.”
Kvyat spent time with Ferrari as a simulator driver last year, and he spoke of how his time away from the track has prepared him well for 2019.
“I think things are different to when I was here last. I think it was good in a way to have this year to put things together and to reflect on things, try to become better as a driver,” said Kvyat.
“Hopefully the things I’ve changed in my approach to work in general and to driving will also be very well reflected on the track.”
Despite being sacked by the team, Kvyat said he “didn’t have to think twice” when the call came for a Toro Rosso return.
“Usually summer is the period when you can start to talk a lot [about future plans] and the first real proposal which came, which seemed real and was very direct, was from Helmut [Marko],” he explained.
“I didn’t think twice, no. I wanted to come back and I had a lot of things to do [with Toro Rosso], and I said I wanted to come back to do my best here. My hunger [to race] grew a lot through 2017.
“Now I feel quite back to normal I would say. I’m really into it now and really enjoying every process every time I get out in the car, it’s a pleasure.”
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