With just under a month before the first race, the teams and drivers got to try out their Formula 1 cars for the 2020 season. Daniil Kvyat was the first to drive the Scuderia AlphaTauri AT01 and shared his initial impressions with ŚwiatWyścigów.pl’s Roksana Ćwik in the paddock of the Barcelona racetrack.
Daniil, you got the full day of running on Wednesday and you drove more than 100 laps. You must be happy with the reliability.
Yeah. To be honest, reliability was pretty strong. We didn’t have any major issues and the first day with the new car was productive. The car was reliable, and I think this is one of the most important things to discover when you’re first trying out the car.
Did you get any feel on performance?
Just an initial look at it but nothing too big. It’s too early to judge the performance at the moment. I think the idea was to get some evolution from the car from last year, to try and get some things improved. At the moment the potential of the car feels quite good, so we just need to keep working, trying to unlock as much performance as possible.
So, you feel there’s room for improvement.
I think it’s the same for everyone. It’s normal. After the first day of running you are only looking to put the car in the right window and by the end of the testing, we should already have a pretty good idea of the setup of the car.
Do you have an idea when are you going to focus on the 2021 car?
I think we just started with this year’s car, so there’s no point focusing on next year’s car yet.
You stood on the podium last year. Is the aim to make it happen again this season?
Obviously for us to get the podium we need quite a lot to happen within the front runners. It happened in Germany and Brazil where there was a lot of circumstances. But Germany was a pretty good race because others were making mistakes and I was able to stay on track and do my job. Of course, if it happens again this year, that would be great, but we never know.
How much of a boost for the team were the results from Germany and Brazil?
It was great, yes. Last year was pretty good for the team.
The team got rebranded recently. Do you feel like it gave it a new personality?
There was a big rebranding, new name, new colours. It’s great. The team represents the fashion brand, which is great, but the technical core of the team stayed the same, it didn’t change and it’s an evolution of last year.
How do you like your new team gear?
I like it. I got used to it pretty fast. At first when I arrived at the track, it was unusual to see all the new colours, but I got used to it and I really like it. It looks cool, I think. In the end it’s for the fans, the exterior design and everybody seems to like it, so it’s good.
How do you manage having two days of testing less this year?
We just try to maybe squeeze a little bit more and be a bit more efficient and compact with our programme, hoping not to miss anything important in these six days, because it’s less than last year. And that’s about it. The rest doesn’t change too much.
Some teams are splitting the days between the drivers. Do you prefer to stay in the car through both sessions?
I think so. We are going to split some days but in general I don’t mind having a full day. I think it’s good like this, so you can work in every condition.
With the cancellation of Chinese Grand Prix, there’s now a big gap in the calendar. How are you going to spend it?
I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought about it.
What do you think of the idea of the Russian Grand Prix possibly moving to St. Petersburg?
I think it’s not too bad. It’s closer to Europe in some ways, maybe it would be a bit easier for some people from Europe to get to that race because right not it’s a bit more difficult for people to get to Sochi. It’s not a bad idea. I think it’s quite interesting and I think there’s a track there now. I haven’t seen it but it’s good that people are trying to build something cool around big cities of Russia.
With Robert Szwartzman winning the F3 title last year and Artem Markelov doing well in F2 over the years, how would you rate the prospects of having another Russian driver in F1 soon?
I think there was a big growth of racing in Russia lately and it’s good. I’m sure there will be more and more drivers from Russia coming and it’s good that young people are getting interested in the sport.
Franz Tost has said that this year he has the best driver line up yet. How do you feel to be part of it?
I think Toro Rosso always had competitive drivers. With few small exceptions, it always had a strong driver line up. But it’s good to hear that. We also like Franz of course, we have been working with him for a really long time, so we really do have a good working relationship and it’s good to know that he has our back.
It must be good to have the stability of the same teammate and being in the same team.
It’s always quite good. It’s important. I did a full last year with them and to be able to say what the car maybe needs, to get better and to see these things now for yourself, it’s quite important.
How do you feel about the Drive to Survive? Do you mind having someone following and recording your every move?
I haven’t seen it, to be honest. So, I don’t know what really is going on there. I prefer to watch other things, not about racing, even if I’m in it. I think it’s great that they’re trying to promote our sport and it’s a fantastic idea and I don’t see any problem that they’re quite close with us.
Overall, do you think there has been a change in terms of fan accessibility to the drivers?
Yes, there’s more and more access. I think it is getting bigger and bigger every year. For example, there are no screens anymore when we’re testing, so soon probably they will be able to share the room with us.
Red Bull is involved in a lot of projects, so would you like to do some crossovers with other disciplines?
Like MotoGP? I’m not allowed, I think. It wouldn’t be wise for me to sample the MotoGP. It would be interesting, but it takes one little mistake and you’re going to get seriously hurt. So, you need to set the priorities right. But they support a lot of cool activities and sports. That’s what Red Bull does.