Despite conceding that he is still in the throes of the F1 learning process, rookie Daniil Kvyat refuses to rate the first five races of his career in the top flight.
The Russian scored points on his debut in Australia, and added more in both Malaysia and China to pull level with Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne in the drivers' standings, but only allows that it has been a 'good' start to his year.
“I don't like to give myself any marks - I'm not at school anymore!” he told journalists after the opening day of practice in Monaco, “I don't try to give too much attention [to how I am doing].
“In all the grands prix [so far], we have taken the maximum out of us, as a team. There have been some qualifying sessions where I could have done a bit better but, at the end, it's part of learning so I don't like to talk about it too much. It's been okay, a really good beginning quarter of the season so far.”
Asked where he felt he had improved in the course of the five races from Melbourne to Barcelona, the reigning GP3 champion said that F1 was beginning to feel more natural.
“[Any improvement] has come in the flow, everything is a bit more automatic now,” he explained, “I have more control over things and can do more things, ask more things of the team, ask for more things for myself.”
Having never so much as been to Monaco before this weekend – and only claiming street racing experience from Pau and the Norisring in the junior formulae – Kvyat made an understandably cautious start to his weekend, posting the 18th fastest time in FP1. With only limited running for all due to a wet track in FP2, he improved his position to twelfth, and remains optimistic that he can continue to move up as the weekend goes on.
“It's an interesting track, different to what I am used to, but I'm used to going out on any track, and trying to achieve my best, get the best out of myself and the car,” he reasoned, “It's a good track, very interesting, but, with the barriers so close, any mistake will be costly. You really appreciate that more when pushing on the limit and today I just kissed the barrier, but it was really small so it was okay for the car.
“I think we have quite a good car here. Coming here, it looked quite difficult, but now I think anything is possible. In the end though, with the track still semi-damp, it was hard to put a good lap together, but I feel quite comfortable with the track and, on Saturday, we'll see how it goes.”
The rain the blighted FP2 wasn't what the Russian wanted as he tried to learn the famous layout, but he accepts that it can only help should the crucial parts of the weekend also fall foul of the unpredictable weather.
“It was tricky to drive, but I wasn't really thinking about that as it's the same for everybody,” he said, “I was just getting the maximum out of the car. The rear is quite unstable here as, once again, we lost some downforce and have more torque – it's difficult to manage but we have to enjoy it. In the end, if you have a fast car, you do enjoy it!
“I was still insisting that I'd go out on intermediate tyres, and the [team] let me do it in the last moments, when they felt the track was quite safe. We don't expect quite so much rain for Saturday, and I think it was good that we had some dry running today as that helped [me get used to track]. I think I'm ready - if FP3 and qualifying are dry then I am fully ready, no excuses.”