Mid-Season Review: Daniil Kvyat

After many youngsters have come and gone, it is somewhat of a surprise when Dr Helmut Marko’s is impressed by one his protegees. However, Daniil Kvyat has exploded onto the scene in a manner similar to a certain Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull ‘school of hard knocks’ seems to have produced another gem. Points scored in three of his first four races, and while reliability issues have somewhat derailed his campaign, it seems as though young Daniil has plenty more to show to the world in the final eight races of this season.

Season So Far…

Australian Grand Prix
9th
Malaysian Grand Prix
10th
Bahrain Grand Prix
11th
Chinese Grand Prix
10th
Spanish Grand Prix
14th
Monaco Grand Prix
Retired
Canadian Grand Prix
Retired
Austrian Grand Prix
Retired
British Grand Prix
9th
German Grand Prix
Retired
Hungarian Grand Prix
14th

Explosive Start

Talk about hitting the ground running – as people criticized Red Bull’s choice to fast-track the GP3 champion into Formula 1 at the tender age of 19, he scores two points on his debut and finishes just three seconds behind Jean-Eric Vergne. He was unquestionably the star of the show in the first round of 2014 and stealing Sebastian Vettel’s record of being the youngest ever points scorer certainly made headlines. 
Flash-in-the-pan? Not a bit. Daniil’s point in Malaysia proved that his drive in Australia was a genuine barometer of his standing within the pecking-order. Fast-forward to Shanghi and Daniil not only added to his points tally, but also beat Vergne for the first time. Considering the Frenchman’s relative experience, beating him in a straight fight was very impressive. The young Russian’s doubters had all but been extinguished by race four, which was an achievement in itself.    

The Raging Bull

However, reliability has really hindered Kvyat’s development this season. After his first four outings captured the attention of pundits, he has somewhat slipped into the background of late, as the poor reliability of Toro Rosso’s STR9 has derailed both Kvyat and Vergne’s seasons. In the past six races, Daniil has retired from four with exhaust, drive-train, suspension and ignition issues, (certainly a mixed bag). As a result, six points do not represent his season so far, and having appeared in Q3 at five of these six events, you could forgive Kvyat if he was a touch frustrated – I know I would be. It requires an old head on young shoulders, and if you will forgive the cliche, these are exactly the qualities that the youngster has shown.
There has only been one instance during a race where this attribute has been brought into question – one occasion where Kvyat has looked like a rookie. Prior to his dramatic exit from the German Grand Prix, he attempted an audacious move around the outside of Sergio Perez at turn eight. Just when it looked as though Daniil was about to demonstrate the race craft of a multiple world champion, he pinched Perez at the apex of the corner and pitched himself into a spin. Unless Perez developed a teleportation device, contact was inevitable. Kudos for the effort, but the execution was not so smart. However, Daniil seems like a rather fast learner and so I doubt we will see him perform a similar maneuver in the future. When we think back to the amount of mistakes Sebastian Vettel made in the early phases on his journey to success, (Fuji 2007 springs to mind), we can forgive Daniil for a slight misjudgment. 

As For The Rating…

Daniil Kvyat’s 2014 campaign so far warrants 8/10
As far as debut seasons go, few have got off to as good a start as Daniil Kvyat’s in recent times and the fact that his rise to stardom is being compared with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel is proof of his impact. Barring a few forgivable errors, it has only been the limitations of his machinery which has restricted the youngster. Dr Marko, you have found another star.

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