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Red Bull F1 boss calls Daniil Kvyat's rookie season 'sensational'

Daniil Kvyat, F1 2014

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hailed Daniil Kvyat's Formula 1 rookie season as "sensational".

Kvyat was promoted from racing in GP3 and European F3 in 2013, with some question whether he was ready to make the step up.

But the 20-year-old - who won the GP3 title last year - scored points in his first two grands prix and has often been in the top 10 during his maiden season.

Horner believes Kvyat's form is testament to the strength of the Red Bull junior scheme.

"He has been sensational and has been the rookie of the season so far," Horner told AUTOSPORT.

"His raw pace and speed, considering the jump he has made from GP3, is hugely impressive.

"He had little pre-season testing and Jean-Eric [Vergne] is a very quick driver, so the benchmark he's up against is good as well.

"And we have got some great talent coming on beneath that with Carlos Sainz Jr, Pierre Gasly and Alex Lynn, so there is some very positive talent on the junior programme."

The Red Bull junior programme has been criticised in some quarters for its ruthlessness.

Sebastian Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi have all been axed from Red Bull's F1 programmes in the past.

But Horner believes the success of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in his team shows how effective the scheme is.

"Both of our race drivers have come through the junior team and they are both there on merit," said Horner.

"The junior programme can be perceived as tough at times, but F1 is not a soft business and you get found out in the end.

"The great thing about the Red Bull programme is that if the guys are seriously talented, they find their way and they are supported."

AUTOSPORT SAYS...
Edd Straw, Grand Prix Editor (@eddstrawF1)

On the face of it, Christian Horner talking up a Red Bull junior should be no surprise, but the glowing praise he has heaped on Daniil Kvyat is merited.

The Russian had to take a giant leap to move from F3/GP3-level into F1 and with Toro Rosso's troubled pre-season testing offering relatively little time for him to hone his skills, it was in at the deep end.

Daniil Kvyat, F1 2014

His results, four top 10 finishes and five Q3 appearances, would have been even better but for the Italian team's reliability record.

Kvyat has also shown well relative to Jean-Eric Vergne, who is also having a good season after improving his mental approach.

But what is really impressive about Kvyat is his mature attitude. He speaks like someone who has been knocking around in F1 for five years and, crucially, is always focused on areas where he can improve rather than talking up his own performances.

That allows him to improve consistently and learn from when things have gone wrong.

It also justifies Helmut Marko's claim last year that it was the constructive way Kvyat responded to things going badly that earned him the nod over other candidates from the Red Bull stable.

It's still early days for Kvyat, but Horner has rightly recognised him as a driver who has the potential to race for his team in the future.

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