Daniil Kvyat in firing line after home Grand Prix howler - How much will it cost him?
Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat has admitted that he is in the firing line after triggering a collision at the first corner in Sochi, which eliminated cham...
Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat has admitted that he is in the firing line after triggering a collision at the first corner in Sochi, which eliminated championship hopeful Sebastian Vettel and effectively ruined the race for both Red Bull cars.
It's hard to say who is more angry with him; the management of Red Bull or the management of Ferrari as yet another chance for a podium slipped away from Sebastian Vettel, who now trails points leader Nico Rosberg by an unassailable 67 points.
The 22 year old Russian misjudged his braking point as the cars funnelled into the tight right hander and he tapped the Ferrari into the other Red Bull. A few hundred metres on, as Vettel tried to work out whether he had a puncture entering the long, fast Turn 3, Kvyat hit him again hard from the rear, sending him into the barriers and out of the race.
It was like something from a video game, rather than real life and, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to hit Vettel once might be considered unfortunate, but to hit him twice looks like carelessness.
Vettel and his team boss considered it more than that, calling it "unacceptable". It follows the incident at the opening corner in China two weeks ago, where Kvyat made a move up the inside and Vettel clashed with his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, spoiling both of their races. That was aggressive, but acceptable and Raikkonen had something to answer for in that incident. But this one was a slam dunk against Kvyat and it could end up costing him a lot more than a loss of face.
To compound Kvyat's pain, Red Bull's main championship rivals at this stage, Williams, scored 22 points for fourth and fifth places. Ricciardo's goal for the race had been to beat at least one of them, despite the power disadvantage weighing heavily on this track.
Kvyat accepted full responsibility for the chaos,
"When you lock the rear wheels the car is a bit out of control," he said. "The first contact came from that. The second touch I was just behind him (Vettel) and couldn't see what was going on ahead. He slowed down a lot and I didn't have time to react unfortunately.
"Of course all the mess came from me and it doesn't feel great, but sometimes these things happen on lap one. It's probably the messiest lap one that happened in my career. I learn from it, I apologise to everyone who was involved.
"Of course it is easy now to attack me and I'm sure everyone will, but I'm okay with that."
Vettel went to Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner and told him that the team needs to have a stern word with Kvyat and Red Bull director Helmut Marko, to whom Kvyat owes his drive, said that they would be having that word with the Russian.
"Danny misjudged his braking point for the first corner, hit Seb, who hit the other Daniel and the outcome was no points for either of our cars," said Horner. "Emotions run high with these guys and in his home race I think he's just gone for too much in the first corner.
"From a team point of view it has screwed our race completely because we could have scrored some useful points. Ricciardo has driven around with a damaged car all afternoon and we have given away a lot of points. [Vettel] was frustrated and all I could do was apologise because this week it was a mistake by Kvyat.
Where does Kvyat go from here?
The context for this episode needs to be fully understood, to see where things go from here.
Kvyat was promoted to Red Bull Racing from Toro Rosso after just one season, with some promising showings, after Vettel jumped ship at the end of 2014. Sources within Toro Rosso said at the time that it was too soon for the Russian, who was still a rough diamond. He looked to have speed, but he was far from the finished article as a race driver.
But Red Bull operates a sink or swim culture and the drivers all sign up to that as a pact with the drinks company which can make them and/or break them.
Both Kvyat and Ricciardo had difficult seasons last year with reliability and lack of engine performance holding them back. Kvyat scored more points, but both drivers retired from strong positions and dropped a lot of points due to reliability.
Ricciardo is a three time Grand Prix winner and an established front runner. This season he has had the measure of Kvyat, although the Russian's feisty performance in China brought the team its first podium of the year.
But the reality of the situation is that at the end of this season Red Bull will promote Max Verstappen to the team and the seat he is likely to occupy is Kvyat's. That was already clear at the start of the season. Sources suggested that decision had been made.
Ricciardo is under contract to Red Bull and although he would be the first choice to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari, the previous history with Vettel means that such a move by Ferrari would destabilise their number one driver and they do not want to do that.
Verstappen is young and has plenty of time to go to Ferrari later in his career. His best interests will be served by moving up to Red Bull Racing next season and challenging at the front. He's proved more than capable of that already. And Red Bull's best interests will be served by such a move.
He has more quality than Kvyat and far more potential.
Kvyat is not stupid, he's seen the writing on the wall, but he is emotional. Emotions got the better of him yesterday, trying to make a big statement for Mother Russia in front of the nation's most important figures and his family.
He has looked edgy all season, in and out of the car and his goal now surely is to show other teams that he has the quality to be a top driver. There will be quite a bit of movement at the end of this season with question marks over the continued participation of Raikkonen, Massa and Button. This looks likely to trigger some musical chairs and with Renault offering two more manufacturer seats, it's all to play for if you are a quality driver with three or four years experience, as there will be next season.
Experience is always prized when there is a major rule change.
Yesterday did not cost Kvyat his seat - that had almost certainly already gone. It is unlikely to have cost him a future in the sport, as he has plenty of opportunities to show what he can do between now and driver decision time around August/September.
He can still save his career, but he has to learn from what happened yesterday and show he has learned, while not losing his aggressive edge. That's his tightrope walk for the rest of the season.
It's not over yet for Daniil Kvyat.
What do you think? Where do you think Kvyat might drive next season, if he leaves Red Bull Racing? Which team would be a good fit?
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