Kvyat: I became a better driver in 2019

Daniil Kvyat’s own synopsis of his performance last season with Toro Rosso is honest and forthright, now the rapid Russian is looking ahead to future success as he continues to prove he is deserving of his second chance on Formula 1.

It seemed only yesterday that Max Verstappen won his inaugural Formula One Grand Prix in a chaotic 2016 Spanish race. Since then he has added seven more victories to his tally. But one man’s gain is always at the expense of another’s fortune, and that unlucky soul in Barcelona was Daniil Kvyat.

Promoted to Red Bull to fill the departing Sebastian Vettel in 2015, Kvyat struggled to match the pace of teammate Daniel Ricciardo and too often fell afoul of the stewards with a myriad of on-track incidents.

The costliest being his double blow into the rear of Vettel’s Ferrari at the 2016 Russian Grand Prix. Living up to his torpedo namesake, Kvyat was duly demoted from the senior team after the race before being completely dropped from F1 after the 2017 season.

But it would be Ricciardo’s shock switch to Renault for 2019 that opened the door for Kvyat’s return to the spotlight. Helmut Marko ultimately decided to offer the Russian a rare second chance to perform for Toro Rosso after concluding that the team had no junior drivers capable of success in F1.

Kvyat then joined a small community of drivers who were offered a second opportunity in F1 after being let go altogether for a period of time. Both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen also experienced the chance to deliver for a second time despite being dropped previously.

For Kvyat, his approach to 2019’s season was exceptional. The Russian would finish P13 in the drivers’ championship with 37 points and assisted Toro Rosso in finishing P6 in the constructors with a record tally of 85 points.

Kvyat also experienced having to deal with two teammates of two completely different calibres. Initially, Kvyat seemed to dominate Albon across all facets, and by the winter break was six places clear of his teammate.

Arguably frustrated at the decision to promote Albon over himself to the senior team, Kvyat continued to exemplify his ultimate potential in a car that was far from the best.

Pierre Gasly apparently succumbed to the pressure that exists in a top tier team that demands nothing short of success; pressure that is undoubtedly amplified when pitted against Max Verstappen. Thus, resulting in Gasly’s demotion to Toro Rosso before the Belgian Grand Prix.

But for Kvyat, the lack of stress that comes with being situated in a midfield team paid enormous dividends for himself and the team. He was able to orchestrate drives that genuinely reflected his potential.

Kvyat’s superb podium drive in the wet German Grand Prix that eliminated the vast majority of the field would be only the second in the history of Toro Rosso, and a testament to Kvyat’s exceptional aptitude.

For 2020 Toro Rosso will be rebranded as AlphaTauri in conjunction with Red Bull’s fashion line. But for Kvyat the goal remains the same: to develop his driving talent whilst delivering the performances expected on a regular basis.

A similar clearheaded approach to the fresh F1 season that was suggested last year is key to unlocking Kvyat’s true potential.

Team principal of AlphaTauri Franz Tost believes his team must target a top-five finish in the constructors’ championship for the upcoming season.

Tost said recently, “I hope that we will do a step forward and then the target becomes quite clear. We have to improve our performance and we have to finish in the top five in the constructors’ championship.”

AlphaTauri will have the additional advantage of once again having Honda provide their power units for 2020. The Japanese manufacturer have rapidly evolved with Red Bull over the last few seasons and late indications last year suggested that their PU already on par with their more established rivals.

Meanwhile, Kvyat has his eyes firmly set on family. During the weekend of his phenomenal German Grand Prix, his partner Kelly Piquet (daughter of three-time world champion Nelson Piquet) gave birth to the couple’s first child; and the off-season provides the perfect opportunity to develop a family relationship

AlphaTauri are set to unveil their 2020 car on February 14th, one week ahead of the year’s first pre-season test in Barcelona.


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Gasly says 2019 season was like 'a Hollywood movie'

Pierre Gasly could have scarcely imagined ahead of time the commotion he endured last year in F1, the Frenchman insisting his 2019 season was like a story out of Hollywood.

After an impressive maiden campaign in the sport with Toro Rosso in 2018, Gasly was promoted by Red Bull to a plum seat alongside Max Verstappen at the senior bull outfit, or at least that’s how he perceived the opportunity.

Unfortunately, Gasly’s difficulties in coming to grips with his RB15 and the significant performance gap with Verstappen put the 23-year-old in the crosshairs of the ruthless Helmut Marko, the man who makes or breaks a driver’s career in F1.

Despite a few glimpses of speed, Gasly’s fate was sealed during F1’s summer break when Marko ordered a straight swap between the Frenchman and Toro Rosso rookie Alex Albon.

It was an unavoidable set-back for Gasly, but one from which he started to bounce back in the second half of the 2019 season.

“It’s been almost like a Hollywood movie,” he told Autosport.

“I would not even imagine it’s real, like all the stuff that happened, how it started, when it started, and the things that happened during the first six months.

“Then after the swap, the way I got back into the [Toro Rosso] team, it just did not feel real.

“Like so many moments over the year, it has been: ‘This can’t be happening. It can’t be real.'”

One incredulous moment that painfully added to Gasly’s whirlwind of emotions in 2019 was the tragic death of his childhood friend, F2 racer Anthoine Hubert.

“It was such a roller-coaster year, I went through every kind of emotion,” he added.

“One of the saddest moments in my life was in Spa when Anthoine passed away, and already I was in a difficult weekend going back to Toro Rosso.

“And then there was Brazil, which was probably the best moment in my life and also in my career.

“I had so many up and down feelings through the year, and yeah, it was great after all these different emotions, all these different times, that I really kept myself working and pushing.

“I knew that ‘OK, keep pushing, and at some point, things are going to fall in the right order.'”

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Kvyat: Toro Rosso must stay ‘on top of our game’

Daniil Kvyat has called for both Toro Rosso and Honda to improve further in 2020 after the team enjoyed a strong 2019 season. 

Red Bull’s sister team have enjoyed one of their best year’s, finishing P6 in the Constructors’ Championship and taking two podiums.

Kvyat, who got one of them in Germany with a P3 finish, was pleased with both the engine and the chassis but thinks the team can still improve.

“Honda made a big step this year, and next year if it can be even more of a step then it’d be great,” Kvyat said as per gptoday.net.

“From that point, I’m not too worried. I think the progress was good. The chassis was similar. We have to keep working and improving our package.”

The 2021 regulations will most likely shake things and give midfield teams a chance to fight at the top. There are no such changes for 2020 though, and Kvyat says that his team, soon to be known as Alpha Tauri, need to be at their best for another midfield battle.

“It doesn’t seem like there will be a very big regulation change next year in any era so we need to be on top of our game to improve the car as much as we can,” he added.

“Hopefully, we can do that. We can’t set any exact expectations.

“We will probably be around the midfield zone again. It’s going to be tight again, but we’ll try to do our best to be as high up the order as we can.”

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Gasly regrets not making most of time at Red Bull

Pierre Gasly clinched his maiden F1 career podium in 2019 with second place for Toro Rosso in the Brazilian Grand Prix – but that doesn’t mean he’s happy with how 2019 went.

Gasly started the season at Red Bull, having been promoted from the junior squad over the winter to replace Daniel Ricciardo as team mate to Max Verstappen.

But the 23-year-old Frenchman’s stuttering performance was soon causing concern within the team. By the summer break, Gasly has only managed to pick up 63 points from 12 races compared to 181 for Verstappen.

“I’ve known Max since our time in karting. I know how fast he is on a single lap and in the races,” he told Dutch publication Formule1.

“He performed very well during those first twelve races, at the level I expected of him.”

Verstappen’s success made Gasly’s struggles seem worse by comparison. He admitted that he wasn’t even close to the level he himself knew that he was capable of.

“For the past seven years I have always been super competitive, except for those six months at Red Bull,” he sighed.

As a result, Red Bull team bosses made the decision to swap Gasly back back to Toro Rosso, while his place at the top table was taken by Alexander Albon from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards.

While Albon did prove to be much closer to Verstappen in the remaining nine races of the season, the change also did Gasly a world of good as well.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme with second placed Pierre Gasly (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR14.

He picked up a further 32 points with the squad, scoring in five of the events, including that spectacular podium in the penultimate race of the season.

Even so, Gasly wishes he had been given the time and suport he needed at Red Bull to work his way out of that early slump.

“I think that if we had wanted, we had everything we needed to make it work,” he stated. “That’s why it’s a bit frustrating that we were not able to make the changes that were needed.”

Any hopes that the driver swap might be reversed and that he could be back at Red Bull in 2020 have since been quashed, but at least Gasly will have another season in F1.

He will remain at Faenza, although the team name will be different next season as Toro Rosso rebrands itself AlphaTauri. Gasly insisted that he had done more than enough to deserve another chance.

“Based on the results I have achieved with Toro Rosso since Spa, I think the seat is completely deserved,” he stated emphatically. “I have a better feeling in the car.”

The team will unveil its new car on February 14 in Salzburg, Austria.

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Kvyat: I became a better driver in 2019

Daniil Kvyat rates 2019 as one of his best F1 seasons, and one where he has become a “better” driver.

It has been an up and down career for Kvyat in Formula 1 with Red Bull at the centre of it, and the latest twist came this season when he was recalled to the Red Bull programme and placed at Toro Rosso.

The 25-year-old has impressed since returning though, claiming P3 in Germany and earning P13 in the Drivers’ Championship as he and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg finished level on 37 points.

It’s easy to see then why he rates 2019 as one of his best seasons.

“I feel very satisfied, to be honest,” he told the F1 website. “I would put it in line with one of my best years in F1 so I’m pretty happy.

“Some races go your way, some races don’t go your way but this is how our midfield works, it’s very tight and some small mistake can cost you some opportunities.

“But these are the parts of our sport that we all know. I think this year I’ve been a better driver than my last years in F1.”

Toro Rosso secured P6 in the Constructors’ with 85 points – a new record points haul for them, and Kvyat believes they also delivered their best season in what was their last as Toro Rosso before becoming Alpha Tauri for 2020.

“Certainly it was a very strong year for Toro Rosso, perhaps the best in the history you may say,” said the Russian driver.

“[It’s] great to be a part of it and the atmosphere in the team this year.

“I think the team has always performed very well. Since the beginning of the year it was quite consistently in the points and always taking the opportunities quite well; with strategy, taking the points which weren’t even there, to still get them was very crucial sometimes. [It’s] a very good boost for next year.”

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Kvyat: '2019 in line with one of my best years in F1'

Daniil Kvyat feels his 2019 season with Toro Rosso has made him a better driver than he’s ever been in his disrupted F1 career.

Kvyat was promoted to F1 by Red Bull in 2014, a year during which he learned his trade with Toro Rosso before stepping up to Red Bull Racing in 2015.

That year, the Russian outscored teammate Daniel Ricciardo but also gained a reputation for getting himself in trouble when racing wheel-to-wheel with his rivals.

Despite a podium finish in China in 2016, Kvyat was sent back to Faenza after three races by Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko, while the mercurial Max Verstappen went the other way, amazingly winning his first race with the senior bull squad.

A low-key campaign in 2017 saw Kvyat pushed out of F1 after the US Grand Prix and sent to the sidelines for a full year of introspection.

His unexpected return to the fray in 2019 with Toro Rosso revealed a wiser, more mature young man whose best performance was a podium finish in the German Grand Prix, the first for the Faenza-based squad since Sebastian Vettel’s sensational Italian Grand Prix win in 2008.

“I feel very satisfied, to be honest,” said Kvyat as he took stock of his 2019 season.

“I would put it in line with one of my best years in F1 so I’m pretty happy.

“Some races go your way, some races don’t go your way but this is how our midfield works, it’s very tight and some small mistake can cost you some opportunities.

“But these are the parts of our sport that we all know. I think this year I’ve been a better driver than my last years in F1.”

Kvyat will have an opportunity to further improve next season as he’ll be racing once again with Toro Rosso in 2020, a team which he feels is his de facto home.

“Certainly, it was a very strong year for Toro Rosso, perhaps the best in the history you may say,” he said.

“[It’s] great to be a part of it and the atmosphere in the team this year. I think the team has always performed very well.

“Since the beginning of the year it was quite consistently in the points and always taking the opportunities quite well; with strategy, taking the points which weren’t even there, to still get them was very crucial sometimes.

“A very good boost for next year.”

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Driver reviews: McLaren, Renault, STR, Racing Point

In round two of three, PlanetF1 delves into the performances of every driver, now it’s the turn of McLaren, Renault, Toro Rosso and Racing Point.

All qualifying averages are calculated based on when both drivers competed free of issues or factors outside of their control.

McLaren

Carlos Sainz

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 10-11
Average gap in qualifying: -0.06s
Race battle v team-mate: 13-8
Best finish: P3 (Brazil)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 66% (96 of 145 points)

Carlos Sainz says his last-lap battle to secure P6 in the Drivers' standings felt like a "World Championship" battle.

2019 has been a real feel-good story when it comes to McLaren, finally after years of under-performance we saw the eight-time Constructors’ champions take a big step towards recovery.

And the driving force, pun intended, behind their rise to P4 in the Constructors’ was Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard was happy to escape the Red Bull shackles and settle down into a long-term deal with McLaren, and that has shown on the track.

His first podium in F1 at the Brazilian GP was a reward for what has been a very solid season for Sainz, and he crowned it with a last-lap lunge on Nico Hulkenberg which secured him P6 in the Drivers’ Championship – the first person outside of Red Bull, Mercedes or Ferrari to break into the top six since 2015.

66% of McLaren’s 145 points came courtesy of Sainz this year, and he will look to score even more in 2020 as they aim to take a step closer to the top three.

Lando Norris

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 11-10
Average gap in qualifying: +0.06s
Race battle v team-mate: 8-13
Best finish: P6 (Bahrain, Austria)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 34% (49 of 145 points)

Norris came into F1 this season as the cheeky 19-year-old who finished runner up to George Russell in the 2018 F2 Championship, and we’ve already grown to love him.

The plucky Brit and Sainz have struck up one of the most entertaining partnerships that we have seen in a long time, and it has been refreshing to see his personality allowed to shine through despite all that’s at stake.

Who will forget Lando Norris’ “I’m moving up and down, side to side, like a rollercoaster” response to a radio check, or when he was moved to tears on the radio as he spoke to his departing engineer Andrew Jarvis in Abu Dhabi.

But on top of all the funny business, Norris has delivered a solid first campaign. He snatched the qualifying battle 11-10 against Sainz in Abu Dhabi, and if it wasn’t for some terrible luck, like his retirement from P5 in Belgium on the last lap, then the race and Championship statistics would have probably looked much closer.

Norris admitted in Abu Dhabi that over time his relationship with Sainz probably will change, but what he’s doing right now is certainly working, and it’s clear that the future is bright for Norris.

Renault

Daniel Ricciardo

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 14-7
Average gap in qualifying: -0.11s
Race battle v team-mate: 11-8 (Double retirement at German GP, double DQ at Japanese GP)
Best finish: P4 (Italy)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 59% (54 of 91 points)

The Aussie may be keeping a brave face saying 2019 wasn’t a year to forget, but let’s be real, it absolutely was.

Ricciardo made the move from Red Bull to Renault for 2019 – the French manufacturer had finished ‘best of the rest’ P4 in 2018 and were keen to build on that, but this year they’ve gone backwards.

For large parts of 2019 they could match McLaren for pace, but a lack of consistency when it came to putting it together in the race cost them.

Still, Ricciardo enjoys bragging rights after winning the qualifying and race battles against team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, while also scoring more points than the German.

P4 at Monza was a solid achievement for Ricciardo – Renault found a surge in performance and their star man took full advantage.

As for next year Ricciardo will have a new team-mate in the form of Esteban Ocon. But, Ricciardo has been blunt in saying that he will “cross that bridge” if Renault don’t show signs in 2020 that they can compete with the big boys in 2021.

The team themselves have stated their desire to have a junior driver in a race seat for 2021, so is the clock ticking on Ricciardo’s time with Renault already?

Nico Hulkenberg

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 7-14
Average gap in qualifying: +0.11s
Race battle v team-mate: 8-11 (Double retirement at German GP, double DQ at Japanese GP)
Best finish: P5 (Italy)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 41% (37 of 91 points)

Williams haven't held talks with Nico Hulkenberg over a 2020 drive.

As we bid farewell to the 2019 season, we do so as well to Hulkenberg. For a while it seemed he was heading to Haas, but eventually every door was slammed shut and he was left without a drive for 2020.

Hulkenberg did say he was “relieved” to get the Abu Dhabi GP over with and move on from F1, but he likely won’t be satisfied with what could be his last season in the series.

Once Ricciardo was bedded into the Renault team, he became the dominant driver, though Hulkenberg did throw a golden opportunity away to claim his first F1 podium at the German GP.

A bit like that race, Hulkenberg’s career has always promised so much but delivered little – it may be would have been nice to see him in a title-contending car, there were of course calls for Red Bull to sign him, but the chances of that were always slim and…did he ever really deserve one?

Toro Rosso

Pierre Gasly

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 7-2
Average gap in qualifying: -0.33s
Race battle v team-mate: 5-4
Best finish: P2 (Brazil)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 38% (32 of 85 points)

Pierre Gasly describes Brazil P2 as "best day of my life".

A broken and dejected Gasly was demoted over the summer break from Red Bull back to Toro Rosso, but it did him the world of good.

Quickly the Frenchman got back into is stride and saw off Daniil Kvyat in both the qualifying and race head-to-heads. The fact his average qualifying lap was 0.33s faster than the Russian also makes for impressive reading.

Of course his greatest achievement of the season, and his career, came in Brazil where he secured a P2 finish. It was his first podium in F1 and that drag race to the line against Lewis Hamilton will go down as a truly iconic moment.

Gasly would have gotten away with P6 in the Drivers’ Championship too, if it wasn’t for that “f*cking Stroll”.

Daniil Kvyat

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 2-7
Average gap in qualifying: +0.33s
Race battle v team-mate: 4-5
Best finish: P3 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 44% (37 of 85 points)

Daniil Kvyat ready for another shot at a big team

While Kvyat has his own comeback story to tell for 2019, he can’t be happy with how it has played out overall.

First of all though let’s give the credit that’s due – his P3 in Germany was Toro Rosso’s first since 2008 and he richly deserved it after surviving the barmy weather to bring his STR14 home.

But, the Russian has also missed out on two big opportunities this season. When that seat at Red Bull was going he couldn’t convince the team to recall him over a rookie in Alex Albon, while he then had the chance to pile further misery on Gasly, which he failed to do.

Across the board Gasly had the upper hand in the second half of the season, and Kvyat must find a way to up his game in 2020 as the duo kick off the team’s new era as Alpha Tauri.

Racing Point

Sergio Perez

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 18-3
Average gap in qualifying: -0.22s
Race battle v team-mate: 16-5
Best finish: P6 (Azerbaijan, Belgium)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 71% (52 of 73 points)

Sergio Perez scores points in Japan despite crashing out.

Perez hoped that Racing Point would finish 2019 with the fourth-fastest car, sadly it didn’t work out that way. But it was the team’s first full season after the financial meltdown of Force India in August last year, so progress was always going to be steady.

What the Mexican has done though is comprehensively beat the owner’s son Lance Stroll in every area. That form earned him a new three-year deal, putting an end to the year-by-year contracts which previously dictated his career with the team.

Racing Point will now, for the first time, have a full uninterrupted winter to prepare their challenger for 2020, and if they come up with the goods then we know Perez can deliver the results.

Lance Stroll

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 3-18
Average gap in qualifying: +0.22s
Race battle v team-mate: 5-16
Best finish: P4 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 29% (21 of 73 points)

Stroll has just finished his third season in Formula 1, so it’s easy to forget he’s still only 21. His dad is now in charge at Racing Point so he probably will have a seat there for as long as he wants it, but there comes a time when the youngster needs to deliver.

He was brought into Williams thanks to his father’s money, the same has now happened at Racing Point and he is yet to fully prove that he deserves an F1 seat based on raw talent.

2019 has undoubtedly been Stroll’s strongest season so far and he showed his wet-weather racing skills in Germany, but Perez has had him in his back pocket all year.

His 14-race streak of Q1 eliminations from the 2018 US GP to Germany this year became something of a running joke, but his racecraft offers much more promise.

In fact, he finishes 2019 with the most positions gained (40) on opening laps out of all the drivers. So, if he wasn’t starting so far down the order, surely his results would improve.

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Ricciardo warns Toro Rosso it’s ‘game on’

Toro Rosso could potentially deny Renault P5 in the Constructors’ at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, and Daniel Ricciardo welcomes the fight.

Renault had been trying to keep with McLaren in their pursuit of P4, but Carlos Sainz’s podium in Brazil wrapped up that ‘best of the rest’ spot for the Woking outfit.

But another unlikely podium, that being Pierre Gasly’s P2, has brought Toro Rosso right back into contention for the P5 which Renault currently hold.

The gap is only eight points with just Abu Dhabi to go, and Ricciardo says as far as he and Renault are concerned, it’s “game on”.

“Game on,” said Ricciardo when asked by Motorsport.com about the fight with Toro Rosso.

“I mean, obviously I’d love for it to be us than them [scoring a lot of points], but I like that it keeps pressure on us for the last race.

“It won’t allow us to rest and gives us really something to fight for in Abu Dhabi. It’s a track I really enjoy, I’ve always gone well there. So yes, ready to go.”

The Aussie hopes to take inspiration from Carlos Sainz’s drive to P6 in Renault colours here last year.

“When I’m looking at the team’s results last year, it’s very similar to this,” Ricciardo said. “A lot of the circuits that I struggled on we seem to probably struggle as well on last year.

“In Abu Dhabi, I know Carlos had a mega race last year, so I’ll take that and we’ll go there with some positives.”

While Toro Rosso are eyeing up Renault ahead, their principal Franz Tost is refusing to get too carried away and believes his team must be “clever” at the season finale.

“You never know what happens, therefore be careful,” he warned.

“We are only eight points behind Renault, which means also this [fifth place] is still possible. But we have to be clever.

“We have to set up the car in a correct way. Abu Dhabi is another track and hopefully we are competitive there as well.”

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High altitude pressing on Toro Rosso in Mexico

Both Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat have highlighted issues arising from the high altitude as being top of their thoughts heading to Mexico City this weekend.

The reduced air pressure means less downforce and reduced engine power and cooling for this weekend’s race, ensuring that the Mexican Grand Prix presents drivers with a unique challenge on the F1 calendar.

“The first day you arrive, you can feel you’re at altitude, but after that you don’t notice it anymore,” said Gasly. “It has a bigger effect on the cars than the drivers.

“We can prepare and train for it, but its more complicated for the engine. Cooling the brakes is a consideration and there is less downforce, so it’s the car that suffers more than we do.

“We put a lot of downforce on the car and you do notice you have less grip as the aero effect is lessened because the air is less dense, so it can be strange.

“We run pretty much maximum rear wing, but the feeling you get is very different to what you would normally expect with that level of downforce.

“It’s always very good to go very fast in a straight line as that’s always exciting. During the race, I reckon we must see some of the highest top speeds of the year.”

Kvyat agreed with his team mate, and added: “The thin air at altitude has an effect on the PU and also the aerodynamics, as there is less drag. It means we hit high top speeds but also run a lot of aero downforce.

“I remember again the first year I went there, I noticed the altitude a bit, you feel a bit lower on energy the first couple of days but then you get used to it and it’s fine.

“It would be nice to train at altitude, but we never have the time as this is a particularly busy part of the season, involving a lot of travelling with long flights.

“Overall it’s an enjoyable weekend,” he added. “I have some good memories here and had a good result a couple of years back, finishing fourth.

“Mexico City is also where we have one of our usual team dinners and, as we head towards the end of the season, it’s nice that everyone gets together in a more relaxed way than at the racetrack.”

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso signs autographs for the fans.

Gasly also gave the venue a big thumbs up. A favourite of teams and drivers, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez has won four-straight ‘Best Promoter’ awards at the end-of-season FIA gala prize giving.

“Last year I took a helicopter trip to visit a Honda factory,” commented the Frenchman. “To see the huge sprawl of Mexico City from the air is a truly impressive sight. The city seems to spread out forever.

“The whole weekend has an amazing atmosphere. I remember last year, during the Drivers’ Parade, I was in a car following Sergio Perez and it was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much support for one driver, with people shouting, cheering and screaming. It was madness.

“That stadium area is so impressive, with so many people in it and when they all start shouting it gives you goosebumps. The whole circuit has a big crowd and that’s great to see.”

Despite his enthusiasm for the event, it’s not been a particularly rewarding one for Gasly so far. He was 13th here in his first Grand Prix in Mexico in 2017, but he did battle his way into contention here one year ago.

“I’ve never had much luck there as I had to take engine penalties which dropped me down the grid,” he acknowledged. “Although last year I came from the back row to finish tenth and score a point!”

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Toro Rosso to Alpha Tauri gets the go-ahead

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s proposed name change to Scuderia Alpha Tauri for 2020 has been approved, according to Motorsport.com.

Red Bull purchased the Minardi team back in 2005, with the rebranded Scuderia Toro Rosso team making its debut in 2006 and serving as a Red Bull junior outfit.

Toro Rosso have one victory in Formula 1, provided by Sebastian Vettel at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, but after fourteen seasons under the name Red Bull announced last month that they wanted a change for their junior set-up.

The Italian words Toro Rosso translate to Red Bull in English, but from 2020 the team is now set to be called Alpha Tauri – the name of Red Bull’s fashion brand launched two years ago.

Motorsport.com report that an F1 Commission e-vote was held in the week after the Russian Grand Prix, in which the name change was given approval.

Meanwhile, the Red Bull team have recorded a rise in profits for 2018.

Recently released documents from the UK’s Companies House show that while the team’s spending has increased, turnover is also up from £231 million to £245 million in 2018, with their post-tax profits increasing to £923,000 in 2018 from 2017’s figure of £575,000.

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