Daniil Kvyat, the man who Max Verstappen replaced at Red Bull, is set to make his racing return – but not in Formula 1.
The Russian has been confirmed to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend on the road course-configured Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Kvyat was long touted as the next big thing as he rose from Formula 3 championship stardom in 2013, through to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso in 2014, and swiftly to the top of Red Bull in 2015.
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However, his tenure at the squad lasted little more than a year.
Following a clash with then-Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel at the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, Kvyat was demoted to Toro Rosso.
Verstappen would replace Kvyat and duly win his first race with the Austrian squad at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The incident with Vettel came almost exactly a year after a similar scuffle at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The four-time champion was critical of Kvyat, who overtook up the inside ‘like a torpedo’ at the first turn, setting off a chain reaction that saw the German crash and take out his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen.
The nickname stuck, and in 2017 the Toro Rosso pilot showed up at his home race with a cartoon torpedo drawn on his helmet.
The love-hate relationship with Toro Rosso owners Red Bull would continue. Before the season was out, Kvyat was dumped in favour of Kiwi debutant Brendon Hartley.
A year on the sidelines followed in 2018 before being rehired in 2019 with the rebranded Toro Rosso squad under the AlphaTauri banner.
Kvyat’s final two seasons were relatively uneventful and had very few moments like his Torpedo shenanigans of old.
The Russian quietly bowed out of Formula 1 at the end of 2020 and has largely faded from public view.
Now, a racing return is just days away.
It’s a far cry from Formula 1, but a NASCAR Cup Series cameo is something Kyvat said he’s excited about.
“I’m very happy to be able to make my NASCAR Cup Series debut at Indianapolis,” said Kvyat.
“I have always been passionate about racing in NASCAR, the top form of motorsport in the United States. NASCAR has always been intriguing to me, as it is a pure form of motorsport to me.
“I’m looking forward to being successful in this form of motorsport and I hope to contend for wins and championships in the future. I can’t thank NASCAR, Josh Reaume, Toine Hezemans, Ernst Berg, and everybody at Team Hezeberg enough for the opportunity.
“The guys at the shop have been working tirelessly to prepare machine and myself for this experience. It will be my first time at Indianapolis, and I am looking forward to seeing it in person.
“From what I have seen on video, Indianapolis is a challenging circuit, but I’m looking forward to that challenge, along with competing in the NASCAR Cup Series.”
Kvyat, who will race for Team Hezeberg by Reaume Brothers Racing, is rumoured to be a starter for further races in the 2022 season.
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