Being a part of the Red Bull driver programme is seen by many as the holy grail for young single-seater stars of the future. While the guidance of Dr Helmut Marko has proved crucial to both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, Marko’s School of Hard Knocks has ended many F1 careers prematurely. Daniil Kvyat’s recent demotion from Red Bull to Toro Rosso could eventually see the Russian added to the list of drivers axed from the programme at the final hurdle.
One element of the Verstappen and Kvyat seat switch which has been missed by many is the indirect effect it could have on Carlos Sainz Jr’s career. The Spaniard has been overlooked by the senior team on this occasion and as Jean Eric Vergne will testify, that doesn’t bode well.
Red Bull Racing know how to drop a bombshell. News that Sebastian Vettel was set to leave the team at the end of 2014 and be replaced by youngster Daniil Kvyat, certainly came as a surprise. The announcement that 18 year-old wonder-kid Max Verstappen is to replace Kvyat in the Red Bull senior outfit with immediate effect broke on Thursday morning, delivering an even greater level of surprise.
With Kvyat moving back to Toro Rosso – the junior squad in the unique Red Bull structure – some have deemed this as a demotion for the Russian. However, the story is as much about the excellence and market value of Red Bull’s teenage superstar.
Ever since F1’s regulations were overhauled ahead of the 2014 F1 season, Mercedes have been the class of the field. A brace of Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles have been achieved in dominant fashion, with 701 and 703 points amassed by the team in 2014 and 2015 respectively. While 2016 has seen Nico Rosberg claim four victories from a possible four and Mercedes secure two one-two finishes, unreliability has hindered them, particularly on Lewis Hamilton’s side of the garage.
Following accusations that the team are deliberately favouring Rosberg this season, Mercedes have written an open letter to the fans looking to quell the speculation.
Sports fans love an underdog story. A tale where the most unlikely heros emerge and write headlines which will never be forgotten. Leicester City have managed to make these headlines, becoming Barclays Premier League Champions despite narrowly avoiding relegation from the division just 12 months ago. A phenomenal sporting achievement and one which will unquestionably go down as one of the greatest tales of underdog glory.
F1 has had plenty of it’s own unlikely victors over the years. Here are the top five F1 underdog success stories since the Premier League’s inception in 1992.
Nico Rosberg is the man you want picking your lottery numbers at present. The German was once again imperious out in front, taking a dominant fourth win from four races in 2016. Yet again though, his chief rivals were heavily compromised, with Lewis Hamilton battling back to second after enduring yet more unreliability in qualifying, while Sebastian Vettel filled the swear box to the brim on lap one, as he was punted out of contention by none other than Daniil Kvyat.
Littered with spikes of drama, the Russian Grand Prix threw up plenty of talking points.
Rule 1 for racing drivers is simple. Don’t crash into your teammate. Following Daniil Kvyat’s bold move at Turn One, in which he scythed past Sebastian Vettel, the German collided with his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, as both Ferrari’s found themselves embarking on recovery drives. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg won at a canter. With Lewis Hamilton out of contention and out of sorts on race-day, following his own lap one collision with Felipe Nasr, and Daniel Ricciardo suffering a puncture, Rosberg’s main opponents were swiftly out of the picture.
His sixth win in a row and his third of the fledgling season. Rosberg now leads teammate Hamilton by 36 points in the championship.
F1’s political war over qualifying looks set to be resolved, as the governing body seem poised to return to the 2015 format. Fans, media and the teams have been lobbying to scrap the much maligned elimination qualifying format after two hugely unsuccessful sessions in Australia and Bahrain. Despite two weeks of political gridlock, common sense has prevailed and it seems that Saturday’s will once again end in a crescendo.