By Alan Baldwin
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Daniel Ricciardo would like to see a clear statement of intent from Daniil Kvyat when the Russian returns to Formula One as a Toro Rosso driver next season.
The laughing Australian was even happy to suggest the script:
“It’s now the resurrection of ‘The Torpedo’,” the Red Bull driver told reporters at the Russian Grand Prix when asked about his former team mate, whose comeback was announced earlier on Saturday.
“If I was Dani, I’d get the torpedo on the helmet…I’d put out a tweet or something (saying) ‘The Torpedo is back’. From him, that would be strong.”
Kvyat, still only 24, was dropped by Toro Rosso and their owners Red Bull in 2017 and has spent this year with Ferrari as a development driver.
He was nicknamed ‘Torpedo’ after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel complained at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix that the Russian tried to overtake him on the inside ‘like a torpedo’, causing a collision.
Vettel also called him a ‘madman’ and the move ‘suicidal’.
In response, Kvyat turned up at last year’s Russian Grand Prix with a helmet design featuring a cartoon character riding a torpedo.
Ricciardo partnered Kvyat at Red Bull in 2015 and part of 2016 — the youngster was sent back to Toro Rosso after that year’s Russian Grand Prix following another clash with Vettel — and was pleased to see him back.
“I’m curious but I actually think the year off will be quite good for him,” he said.
“It’s probably made him realise a few things with himself. I think he’ll appreciate being back in the sport and I think he’ll be more mature.
“I’m not saying he was immature, but these things will help him keep a cooler head and probably reach his potential more consistently,” added the Australian, who is leaving Red Bull for Renault at the end of the year.
“It’s cool that he gets another crack. All I can say is that I hope it works for him.”
Red Bull are famously unsentimental about their young drivers, with as many tossed on the scrapheap as those who make it through.
Ricciardo, four-times champion Vettel and Max Verstappen — who replaced Kvyat at Red Bull and turns 21 on Sunday — are the main success stories but others have seen their F1 careers end painfully early.
Formula One offers few second chances but a lack of readily-available young talent has seen a change of tack from Red Bull, with current Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley also coming back last year following a previous rejection.
Ricciardo said there was no doubt Kvyat had the speed and the talent to warrant a re-think.
“On his day he was quick. I was just never really sure if he knew how he was doing it,” he said. “But the natural talent is there.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)