Fallen Red Bull talent Daniil Kvyat is at a loss to explain his performance slump after a disastrous qualifying result at the German Grand Prix.
Kvyat was eliminated in P19 during Q1, when his best lap was half a second slower than that of his teammate, Carlos Sainz, who progressed to Q2 and qualified thirteenth.
The Russian was dumped by Red Bull Racing for Max Verstappen ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, but he was given the chance to return to Toro Rosso to “recover his confidence” after a first-lap crash with Sebastian Vettel in the previous round.
The season since then has been a disaster for Kvyat. The 22 year old has retired thrice in seven races and finished behind Sainz in the remainder.
After the close-run Q1 at the Hockenheimring, Kvyat cut an obviously dejected man.
“I did a bad lap with many mistakes, so I was expecting to be out of Q1,” he said. “I’m not feeling great. It’s not a good period for me.
“It seems like it’s never-ending. We will see. I try every weekend so much, but nothing is working so far, so it’s a bit more than that.
“I don’t know what I need. I don’t know.”
After Red Bull’s sensational driver switch in May — triggered partly by Kvyat’s ragged driving and mostly by agitation for change by Verstappen’s management — Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports that the move would be beneficial for all the company’s contracted drivers.
“I think putting him into Toro Rosso will enable him to recover his confidence and form, and of course we can evaluate it from there,” he said.
“Formula One costs Red Bull tens of millions of pounds; if we didn’t believe in him as a talent, he wouldn’t have been retained.”
Kvyat’s approach to his lack of form was more pragmatic.
“We need to get this race under our belt first,” he said. “I just need the feeling in the car. When it comes back, it should be much better.
“I know when I have the feeling in the car. I know that when I have a car with feeling there are not many drivers who can beat me, but at the moment I don’t have the feeling, so I’m very easy to beat. This is how it is.
“I can’t remember the last time I had a good feeling with any car. I don’t know what’s going on. It seems like my window of working is very narrow. We need to work on expanding it, but it is not so easy, for sure.”
Concerning for Kvyat is Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly, whose GP2 career is in the middle of a resurgence after more than 1000 days without a victory.
Gasly is the only driver on Red Bull’s books ready for a Formula One seat, and the Frenchman’s five podiums, including two wins, so far this season have breathed life into his bid for a Toro Rosso drive.
Red Bull confirmed Carlos Sainz’s place in the junior team for 2017 almost two months ago, leaving Kvyat without certainty for next season while being painfully aware of his team’s brutal driver management policies.
“Once again it’s looking very bad now, and if it continues like this, I don’t think anything bright is ahead,” he admitted. “It’s not like I’m having the most pleasant time in the world.
“Everyone gets hard times. If you’re good enough, you come out; if you’re not good enough, you just die.”