“I feel the positive curve, but you can’t take anything for granted and we have to continue adopting the right attitude and approach, which has been working very well,” began Daniil Kvyat when asked about his improved performance at the wheel since the Singapore GP. “We are working in a very precise and spot-on way. It’s hard to work to maintain this. Even if we were only P13 in Japan, that was actually a strong performance with the package we have.
“This weekend will be another tough race for us and we can only do the best job we can. I look very much to my own performance and that of the team. When I came back to the team in May, maybe I was trying to put the car on pole, but now I am focussing on the right things, driving the car as fast as I can with the tools that I have and whatever the position on the time sheet, if it was a good lap, we in the team we know that.
“I’ve done some simulator work on the 2017 car,” revealed Daniil when quizzed on this topic. “The simulator can give the engineers some ideas but there are no conclusions to be drawn just yet as it’s early days. The new cars are meant to be a bit faster and you can feel that. Every time you jump in a faster car, it feels exciting, just as it did in my junior days, when you went from a two litre car to Formula 3 for example. Next year will be a similar thing, as you will have a bit more downforce in the corners, so for a driver that moment will be an exciting time.”
We could describe Kvyat’s mood as guardedly optimistic when it comes to his own plans for 2017. “My aim is to be in F1 next year, but it’s too early to comment,” said the Russian. “We will have discussions behind closed doors. I have a lot of respect for and loyalty to Red Bull. Sooner or later I would like to have more details! What do I think? From my side, I can tell you I am still very good!” he added with a laugh. “Red Bull has managed me through my junior career and it is still Number One on my list. I am looking for a drive where I can show what I can do. Toro Rosso is a fantastic team, we are one family and I feel very comfortable here.”
Against a backdrop of our catering crew laying out today’s lunch buffet for our team, Carlos Sainz had this to say about his chances this weekend in Austin. “I just did the track walk and that back straight…it seemed even longer than I remembered from last year. But seriously, here we can expect a very similar performance to the last couple of races in Malaysia and Japan. However, on the Sunday of a race weekend, there are always more options, as you have 22 Formula 1 drivers all extracting the maximum from their car. On Saturday, there is less you can do, especially now, towards the end of the season, when everyone knows their car perfectly, what set-up to use, how much front wing and so on, which means it is very difficult to make a difference as a driver. But on Sunday, you have more opportunities. If we have a two or three stop race with a well-timed Safety Car then it could help. Looking at our clean-lap race pace in Suzuka, it was better than other competitors, so we were better than expected, which is why we look forward to Sundays.”
The conversation then switched to 2017. “We are all together pushing very hard in Toro Rosso for next year as we want to have a very competitive car, a competitive package,” continued Carlos. “It’s important also for the team’s image, as I believe it is good for Red Bull to have Toro Rosso higher up the grid than it is now. We must be fighting for points in every race next year.”
There are plenty of reasons on paper why Toro Rosso should be a stronger contender next year, but the Spaniard would not take anything for granted, given the rule changes being introduced. “We’ve shown in the last couple of years that James (Key) and his team are strong enough to create a very decent chassis,” maintained Sainz. “We just need to get all the important points right for next year, as at the moment, no one knows exactly what is the right direction to take. Next year in winter testing, we will probably see different solutions, different approaches and we just need to make sure we take the right ones right from the beginning.” The Spaniard definitely sees 2017 as an opportunity to show the world what he can do.