After a debut season with Red Bull Racing that failed to live up to the team's storied past, Daniil Kvyat is not setting his goals too high ahead of the 2016 campaign.
Although the young Russian ended his first year as Sebastian Vettel's replacement ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the championship standings, neither driver was able to add to RBR's impressive win tally, and only managed a handful of podium finishes between them as engine woes stymied any hope of competing with Mercedes and Ferrari.
With little change on the horizon for 2016, despite Red Bull taking development of its Renault-based powerplants in-house with Mario Ilien, it is perhaps unsurprising that Kvyat isn't exactly tagging the Milton Keynes-based giant as a powerhouse for the coming year, although he still hopes to see some measure of improvement.
“We aim to make steps forward and so as long as we see progress and make steps forward we'll be happy, but we will always aim high,” he told the team's official website, “We'll never be really happy until we're back on the top step of the podium but, for now, let's start with small signs of progress. That would satisfy me for now.”
Having enjoyed his winter break, Kvyat is already back in training for the new season, which kicks off in Australia in less than two months, but admits that he found it hard to switch off completely in the weeks since last year's Abu Dhabi finale.
“My preparation started in the New Year, mainly just getting back into the training rhythm, then, from the second week of January, I was back into the normal training rhythm,” he revealed, “Now we're working with the engineers and the team, so the proper track preparation starts now.
“I must admit, on the flight back to Europe from Abu Dhabi I was thinking 'what will I do now?' - I've almost forgotten how to live outside of racing! It probably took me about a week to get back in the rhythm and get used to different kinds of things – different friends, different events and so on. Everything was more chilled so I chilled out. Getting back into disciplined training again was okay as it's quite ordered, but when I did the first PR day recently, I realised it was quite hard to talk - I had to get used to English again!”
Like team-mate Ricciardo, Kvyat still found some high-octane ways to 'relax' during the break, and insists that it was hard to find anything negative about his time away from the cockpit.
“After Abu Dhabi, we had some work to do in the factory, but I spent Christmas in Rome with my friends and family, then I went skiing with a group of friends in the Alps,” he reported, “We were a bit unlucky with the snow, like most of Europe, although the funny thing is, the day before I left, it started to snow a lot, which was a pity. But I still managed to ski, see my friends and spend time with my family, who I won't see for a while once the season starts. I only had good moments!”