Competitive lap times during the hiatus fueled F1 rumours, and a casual chat in Montreal with Red Bull boss Christian Horner and Marko revealed Kvyat's successful Ferrari testing. A subsequent call to Marko expressed Kvyat's readiness for an F1 comeback.
The turning point came with Ricciardo's shock move to Renault. Within three days, Marko's call brought Kvyat back to Red Bull, which the Russian largely puts down to good timing.
Kvyat: Marko said 'what timing!'
“It started to be difficult times because my motivation was quite low to go back to Toro Rosso, another car that was a different philosophy,” Kvyat told the official F1 website.
“Carlos [Sainz] was very hungry and confident with that [Ferrari] car, and me, on the other hand, not hungry, not confident. There’s nothing [you can] do against a hungry Carlos with that mental approach.
“There were flashes of decent races, but it wasn’t the best season. In 2017 it was a slightly better approach, but still not quite there, and I think we were just growing apart with Red Bull – it was clear that we needed a break. So, 2018 was the year of the break and I became the Ferrari reserve and test driver. It was good there. I needed it just to eat, train and sleep, honestly.”
“My lap times were very competitive,” he added. “You know, rumours go very fast in F1. I went to Montreal with Ferrari and I saw Christian and Helmut just to say hi and drink a coffee with them. They were very happy to see me and we had a good chat. At one point they said, ‘We heard your test went very well’, and I was like, ‘Well, yeah, I didn’t know you knew about it!’, but we kept in touch.
“I later gave Helmut a call, not out of desperation, but I needed to get back to F1. I said, ‘I’m ready to race, I think I would be a great asset for you now’, and he goes, ‘OK, everything is closed, but I’ll let you know if something changes’. Three days after, I think, Daniel decided to go to Renault. Helmut called me and said, ‘What a timing, are you still interested?’ We shook hands and that was my way back in.”
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