Christian Horner says Daniil Kvyat's second career podium in F1 at the Chinese Grand Prix is evidence he is finding confidence and balance in the Red Bull which sets up a promising campaign for the 21-year-old.
The Red Bull boss agreed the Russian's start to the 2016 campaign had begun to mirror his maiden year with the Milton Keynes-based squad after a technical problem forced him to miss the start of the season-opening Australia Grand Prix - which also ruled him out the year before - while in the second race of the year he scored a low top ten.
Last year heading to Monaco Kvyat was under heavy pressure from Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to produce a strong result but the Russian has ensured his second year with the team doesn't follow a similar path thanks to his third place in China.
After qualifying impressively on worn tyres in Shanghai Kvyat held his nerve in the first corner battle against the two Ferraris and despite being eventually reeled in by Sebastian Vettel he grabbed a controlled third place.
Horner says Kvyat's second F1 rostrum, after finishing runner-up in the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix, will give him huge confidence for the season ahead working on getting the maximum from RB12 on both fresh and scrubbed tyres.
“It's fairly similar to last year,” Horner said. “He struggled a bit at the beginning of the year. Certainly his race in Bahrain was strong and now he's put in another very, very good performance and I think that is just great for his confidence.
“He put in a good performance in qualifying on the scrubbed tyres. At the end of quali he did a super lap – one tenth of a second and he'd have been P4. So I think he's really finding his way with the car and the tyre now and 90% of it is understanding how to extract the most performance out of the tyre on the car.
“I'm sure speaking to all the drivers you know that they're incredibly sensitive and it's finding that sweet spot which I believe he's starting to really understand now.”
Horner also reiterated his belief in both his drivers Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo who have put the team within reach of Ferrari after its underwhelming start to 2016. Red Bull currently sits four points off Ferrari in the F1 Constructors' Championship with Ricciardo the early challenger in the drivers' standings to the dominant Mercedes duo and above both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
“I think he's doing a great job and let's not forget that his team-mate is doing an awesome job at the moment as well,” he said. “I mean he's really on the crest of a wave and his confidence is sky high. He's driving fantastically.”