By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost highlighted Daniil Kvyat’s spirited battle with Max Verstappen in the Singapore Grand Prix as the turning point of his 2016 Formula 1 season.
The Russian started the season off with Red Bull, but was swapped in favor of Max Verstappen prior to the Spanish Grand Prix – which the Dutchman went on to claim as his first F1 victory.
Kvyat’s return to Toro Rosso started off rough, but his ninth-place run at Singapore was impressive enough to warrant being re-signed and quieting talks of being replaced by GP2 Series champion Pierre Gasly.
“I think that it was generally positive to show that he still has the speed and the car control to fight against Max,” Tost told Motorsport.com. “And also to leave him behind. I think for his self-confidence it was very important.
“I think the big turnaround was done in Singapore, where he really showed a good race and qualifying as well. And also afterwards he showed good performance. Therefore for me it was clear that he should continue with us.”
Tost added that the demotion was likely difficult for Kvyat after enjoying success with the senior team.
“After changing from Red Bull Racing to Toro Rosso, it was a hard time for him,” Tost continued. “Naturally you also get a little bit weak from the confidence side. So it’s a positive influence and impact if you can keep a driver like Max Verstappen behind you with a Toro Rosso car.
“Of course Red Bull had a very competitive package, from the engine side as well as from other components, but he showed that he could still do it and in parallel increased his self confidence. The most important part for race driver that he is clear in his head and that he is self confident.”
The 22-year-old’s strong finish has put faith in a possible return to form for 2017.
“I was 100% convinced that he could come back [to his best] because he showed in the past that he could do it,” Tost said.
“In sports in general, you have ups and downs. But if a driver or a sportsman in general shows that he can win races and championships, then you know he has in mind all the ingredients he needs to become successful and to be successful.
“Therefore I’m convinced that Daniil is coming back, that he will become successful and I expect a very strong season from him in 2017.”