Internet search engines will have been busy this morning, as the motor racing world woke up to the news that 19 year-old Russian Driver Daniil Kvyat had been promoted to Toro Rosso’s second F1 seat for the 2014 season. There will be more than are brave enough to admit that they weren’t quite sure who this teenager is who will partner Jean-Eric Vergne next year.
It was a bit of an unexpected announcement from Red Bull and Toro Rosso last night and we’re not going to get into the politics as to why it wasn’t the widely tipped Antonio Felix da Costa that didn’t get the Toro Rosso drive. There will have been long and multi-faceted discussions as to who should be promoted and no one outside Red Bull should be a judge of that. And besides, we think Antonio is fab.
One factor that has added to the element of surprise though, is that not many people know exactly who Daniil Kvyat is. Well he’s a Red Bull Junior driver. And it’s probably fair to say that if you’re a Red Bull Junior driver, you’ve got a better chance than most of reaching the top level of the sport. So not quite such a surprise when you see it in that context.
In addition to Kvyat’s good fortune in having a well-placed sponsor, we also shouldn’t be surprised that his potential has been recognised when he has achieved so much in the junior categories. Maybe the issue is that a lot of people don’t see below F1 and the drivers that are moving their way up the ladder.
The strap line on our website reads, “Tomorrow’s F1 stars, today” and that’s not by accident. They really are. And yes, we have a vested interest in this argument as a junior racing team but we’re not just talking about our drivers. There are a handful of drivers in each junior category, racing for various teams that are capable right now of racing in Formula 1. That’s not to belittle what it takes to drive in Formula 1. That’s highlighting how good these junior drivers are. And some will make it and some will not. The money might run out for some. The opportunity might just pass others by; the stars may not align quite at the right time. But they will still be capable of making the step up. For those that don’t make it, F1 isn’t the be all and end all; they will go on to be fantastic drivers in DTM, IndyCar, V8s, LMS, WEC and beyond. The key point is though, that these guys are quality drivers.
It’s easy for even the most ardent motorsport fan not to see beyond the glamorous and high profile world of Formula 1. It is after all the most widely publicised form of the sport. But missing out on the junior formulas is missing out on the grassroots of the sport. Familiarise yourself with the key players in the junior formulas and a whole new world of tension, talent and drama unfolds. The racing action in Formula Renault 2.0, F3, Formula Renault 3.5, GP3 and GP2 is high quality enough to rival any F1 race. And the same bloke doesn’t normally win every race.
Come to a race and see how an F1 star becomes the driver he will become. Get his autograph while you still can. Get a photo. Celebrate the depth of talent in the sport that will one day be shielded by the high profile world of F1.
Daniil may be young but he has the potential to be a real star. As do others. Don’t judge him before he has had chance to turn a wheel. Celebrate instead that a hard working young driver has been given the opportunity of a lifetime. And come see which other junior drivers are shining. Then next time it won’t be such a surprise.