Ex-F1 driver Daniil Kvyat says his first season with Red Bull Racing in 2015 was the most important of his career, and marked by his rivalry with his teammate, a then "top notch" Daniel Ricciardo.
A year before, in his debut season with RBR, Ricciardo had comprehensively overshadowed reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, the Aussie winning three races and finishing third in the Drivers' standings behind Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg while outscoring Vettel by 71 points.
For 2015, the German opted to leave the Milton Keynes-based outfit and join Ferrari, leaving Red Bull to promote Kvyat from Toro Rosso to the senior bull outfit.
It was a big break for the Russian who suddenly found himself driving for a championship winning team and alongside a Grand Prix winner.
"Daniel Ricciardo at the time was like a big superstar, and when I came into the team, he just beat Vettel so there was a lot of hype around him in the team and everywhere," Kvyat recalled, speaking on the Track Limits podcast.
"So everyone was like, ‘yeah, he’s the man to beat now. He’s probably the best driver on the grid right now.’
"That’s what they were telling me. So for me, it was huge.
"Now it’s different, of course, but back then he was top notch. So for me was a big year, 2015, when I just got into a Red Bull."
Unfortunately, Red Bull's Renault-powered RB11 was no match for its rivals in 2015. The team failed to win a single race, but Kvyat nevertheless succeeded in outscoring Ricciardo in the championship, albeit by just three points as the pair finished P7 and P8 in the standings.
But Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko was overall unimpressed with Kvyat's performances and chose to demote the Russian back to Toro Rosso after just four races in 2016, with the mercurial Max Verstappen traveling the other way following his promotion to RBR.
Kvyat would linger at Toro Rosso, eventually losing his drive with the Faenza team at the end of 2017 only to come back at the start of 2019 for two final campaigns in F1.
Looking back, Kvyat insists he got on well with Ricciardo although he believed that the Aussie's facetious personality was "a bit too much" at times.
“My impression of him was he was the man at the time, very funny personality so very attractive for media – bit too much for me – but no, we got along well,” Kvyat said.
"There was a lot of rivalry between us, of course. The beginning was like he was taking things easy. Then, when he saw that, okay, I have pace, then [he] started also to stay in [the] motorhome until midnight like me.
"And we were both there sitting, engineers were gone already and we were still there studying the data seeing who would go home later.
"But no, I rate him very good. I think those cars, they suited him up perfectly also at the time, had good understanding of tyres. Those tyres were a bit different, they were very fragile.
"He’s been a very strong rival, I think pushing me to the limit."