The 2020 season has renewed the importance of having a solid substitute ready to race
By Yuri Coghe
Former Red Bull, Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri man Daniil Kvyat has joined Alpine as their reserve driver for the 2021 season.
The team announced the 26-year-old Russian during its 2021 online car launch on Tuesday. It’ll be Kvyat’s second time in the role, having served as a reserve driver for Ferrari in 2018.
“The team has achieved some great results in the past year and is very technologically advanced,” said Kvyat. “As a reserve driver you need to keep sharp and I look forward to integrating into the team in several different areas.”
Kvyat made it to F1 as part of the Red Bull Junior Team in 2014 to race for their satellite team Toro Rosso, ascending to Red Bull Racing in the following season.
In 2016, however, he was sensationally sent back to his former team after the fourth race of the year in a strategic swap for Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver would then go on to famously win his debut race for Red Bull at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The ‘relegation’ proved difficult to get over for Kvyat, who struggled for form until being dropped from Toro Rosso at the end of the 2017 season.
He joined the team once again in 2019, adding a third podium to his resume at the German Grand Prix. He remained with their rebranded AlphaTauri version in the 2020 season.
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon are the driving duo for the French team. F2 Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou, part of the Alpine Academy, will serve as the test driver.
The 2020 season has renewed the importance of teams having a solid substitute ready to race in a Grand Prix weekend.
“In a year of pandemic, it is important for us to have a strong backup, and Daniil has proven that he’s a very quick and reliable driver under very difficult conditions,” said Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.
“He has already scored three podiums at the age of 26, so we are very, very happy to have someone who is going to be able to step up if the need arises and score the points, take the car where it should be at the end of the line.”
Racing Point had to rush to fly Nico Hulkenberg over to three races last year to replace Sergio Pérez twice and Lance Stroll once, due to the starting duo testing positive for COVID-19.
Later in the year, Lewis Hamilton also needed to be replaced for the same reason. Mercedes choose Williams’ George Russell for the task, prompting F2 driver Jack Aitken to then substitute the 23-year-old in the chain of events.
Brazilian driver Pietro Fittipaldi also took part in the final two races of the season, when Romain Grosjean was still recovering from his huge crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix.