Now Toro Rosso has confirmed it has signed Daniil Kvyat to fill Ricciardo's vacancy. Daniil who now, you ask? Daniil Kvyat, a promising up-and-coming racer supported by Red Bull's junior driver program. Working his way successfully up the formula racing ladder, Kvyat spent this season driving for top teams in both the GP3 Series and European Formula 3 Championship at the same time... and winning races in both. Although not classified for points in F3, he's currently in second place in the GP3 standings. He also tested for Toro Rosso this past July in the official young driver test at Silverstone.
Kvyat is the latest in a string of Russian racing drivers. Vitaly Petrov drove for Lotus and Caterham, scoring a podium finish at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, but didn't land a drive this season. Sergey Sirotkin has signed with Sauber for next season, accompanying a marked increase in Russian sponsorship and involvement in the sport. Russian investors have bought their way into the troubled Sauber team, Marussia bought the former Virgin team in 2010, and the inaugural Russian Grand Prix is set to take place next October in Sochi.
Earlier bets were that Toro Rosso would go with Antonio Felix da Costa, but a downward turn in the young Portuguese driver's performance – and an upturn in Kvyat's – lead them to go with Daniil instead. He'll partner with Jean-Eric Vergne, who stays on with the team. Williams, Lotus and Force India have yet to confirm their drivers for next year, and Caterham, Marussia and Sauber each have a seat open as well.
2014 Scuderia Toro Rosso Driver Line-Up
Scuderia Toro Rosso is pleased to announce that Daniil Kvyat will drive for the team from the start of the 2014 Formula 1 season, as the replacement for Daniel Ricciardo, who moves to Infiniti Red Bull Racing. Kvyat, another product of the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme, will therefore partner Jean-Eric Vergne in our driver line-up. This year, the 19 year old Russian, who is based in Rome, has been competing in GP3 and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
"We are pleased to continue our policy of bringing on drivers from the Red Bull Junior Programme. Daniil is a very talented driver, which can be seen from his results in all the junior categories. He was a very successful Kart driver and, in 2012 he took the Formula Renault 2.0 Championship title with 7 wins. This year, he competed in six rounds of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, taking 1 win, 5 poles and 5 podiums. In addition to this, he is still in a position to win the GP 3 Championship, as he is only 7 points behind the leader. He impressed our team with a strong performance and very informative technical feedback at the young driver test in Silverstone. This suggests that the basic qualities from which he can progress are all in place. Daniil can be sure that we will use all our experience of training youngsters to give him the best possible start to his Formula 1 career."
"This is fantastic news, a dream come true and I want to thank Red Bull and Toro Rosso for giving me this priceless opportunity. Ever since I began karting, I wanted to get to Formula 1 and now
that wish will become reality next season. I had a brief taste of working with the Toro Rosso team, when I drove for them at the Silverstone test and I enjoyed the experience very much. The fact I am based in Italy and speak Italian will, I am sure, help me to become part of the team very quickly."