F1 rookie Daniil Kvyat says that his top ten run in the Australian Grand Prix will serve him well as he heads for round two on a circuit he is already familiar with.
The Russian used the three free practice sessions in Melbourne to acclimatise to the Albert Park circuit, before making the most of unpredictable conditions in qualifying to push his Toro Rosso into the pole position shoot-out, eventually lining up eighth on the grid for his F1 debut.
From there, the reigning GP3 Series champion held his own in the points positions throughout the 57 racing laps, crossing the line in tenth place before being promoted to ninth when Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was excluded for a technical infringement. Not only was the result a strong start for a driver that Toro Rosso clearly sees potential in – having promoted him over several other candidates with experience of GP2 and Renault World Series – but also allowed Kvyat to add another accolade to his resume as he broke multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel's record as the youngest scorer in top flight history.
As a result, he heads to this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix on a wave of optimism, buoyed by the fact that his learning curve at the Sepang circuit will not be as steep as it was 'down under'.
“The second race of the season is also the first track that I have visited before,” he confirmed, “I took my first ever single-seater win here for BMW in 2010 and this is also where I drove my very first single-seater race, so I have plenty of memories of this circuit – but it's going to seem very different this time, because there's a huge step from Formula BMW to F1! I am sure I can be more confident this weekend, after experiencing my first race weekend in Melbourne.”
Sepang also holds good memories for Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne, who opened his F1 account there two seasons ago. The Frenchman completed a good day for STR in Australia by heading his rookie colleague in both qualifying and the race, picking up four points. However, unlike Kvyat, Vergne admits that he is not a fan of the Kuala Lumpur layout.
“I have a happy memory of Sepang as it was here that I scored my first F1 points, but it's not one of my favourite tracks to be honest, as I don't feel it has any particularly challenging characteristics,” he explained, “The best thing about this race is its unpredictable nature because of the weather - you can start on slicks and, within a few laps, you need extreme wets because of a heavy storm! That
can be fun for a driver...”