Daniil Kvyat deserved another chance in Formula 1 because he has changed and is “more mature”, according to the Red Bull team who axed and then rehired the Russian driver.
Kvyat will return to the grid with Toro Rosso next season, completing a rollercoaster F1 comeback.
He was demoted by Red Bull to their junior team mid-season in 2016 after a string of high-profile collisions, and dropped from their programme entirely just a year ago.
Red Bull director Helmut Marko claims he kept in contact with Kvyat, who worked with Ferrari as a development driver this season, and was delighted to bring him back into F1.
“Daniil changed – he is a far more mature personality,” Marko told Sky F1.
“He was working with a different team so he saw the whole atmosphere, working programme, and he also found out how difficult it is to get a Formula 1 seat.
“We give him a third chance because we always believed he was very fast, but his mental problems, we think he has solved.
“He is a far more mature driver and I’m sure we will see some very positive races from him.”
Marko added: “He went to Ferrari and thought maybe there’s a chance, then when he realised he was not in the frame, he starts talking more intensively with us.
“I am sure we will see the real Kvyat again.”
Kvyat is also happy to be back in the fold, telling Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes that “we are grown up enough to be able to turn the page and have a fresh start.”
The 24-year-old continued: “I do feel you always change through your life. This year has been a bit different for me, it’s been a year away from racing but yet it was a very important year.
“You always have to keep working on yourself and that’s what I’ve been doing this year. and next year I’m very much looking forward to it with Toro Rosso.”
Kvyat entered F1 in 2014 with Toro Rosso, becoming the sport’s youngest-ever points-scorer on his debut, and was promoted to the senior team to replace Sebastian Vettel the following season.
He outscored Daniel Ricciardo over the year, and remains the only Red Bull driver to ever do so, but endured a nightmare start to the 2016 campaign after twice colliding with Vettel’s Ferrari.
Kvyat was soon replaced by Max Verstappen and had just over a year back at Toro Rosso before he was dropped by the Red Bull family and suddenly out of the sport.
But team boss Christian Horner now says: “He’s in a good space.
“I think he’s had time to get away from the limelight of Formula 1 and reflect. It was a big thing for him in 2016 when he got dropped effectively from the senior team to the junior team.
“I don’t think he ever really got his head fully around that.”