The lesser-spotted Red Bull Academy driver or Daniel Kvyat as we usually know him, is a very rare breed as he’s a member of the Red Bull driver ladder that has shown both fragility and lowly on-track performances but still survived to drive. As we have seen in the past, Helmut Marko does not suffer weakness lightly and puts a lot of pressure on its drivers to perform and will readily speak out on what is expected and where a driver may be lacking and therefore closer to the axe.
Perhaps there is something to Kvyat’s ties to Russia that hold some commercial weight to keep him on but I am surprised that he is still in the line up and was not replaced by GP2 Champ Pierre Gasly (are they allowed to sell Red Bull in France yet?).
Daniil had a seriously troubled 2016, obviously, with public discussions of his replacement by Max and then some sub-par drives at Toro Rosso, I was genuinely worried about the dear boy, and not just if he would retain his job or not. We’ve seen Red Bull discard some serious talent—most notably multiple champion Buemi—so he needs to take this chance by the horns as I don’t see this carrying on much longer.
We have seen some great drives from Daniil but he never looked comfortable to me even then and was always still pressing and gripping that wheel tight. Hopefully over the winter he has been able to get all his arrows pointed forward and is able to relax in the car a little more, if he does this I believe he will be more consistent which will then enable him to improve overall and hopefully make a point for him to stay in F1 post Red Bull.
He is a rookie no longer and he needs to be more mature and composed. This will be tough of course, as although Red Bull did not put Gasly in the car initially they will not be shy of a mid season change should they see fit. F1 can be brutal with its drivers and you rarely get second chances so he really must stand tall, grow up and be the man he can be.
Carlos Sainz Jr
Well there wasn’t much more you could have asked of Carlos in 2016, he was mightily impressive and although sometimes we see team mates in lower teams and formulas that once they get to the big time, there is a separation in pace and success.
I don’t see this happening with Carlos and Max Verstappen. They were very close as team mates and given equal cars, I think that would continue. For Carlos he is a victim of the Red Bull Academy having too much talent and not enough top line seats, you just cant see Horner allowing Ricciardo or Verstappen go, why would you?
For them, having Sainz as the next in line gives them some ammo for negotiation and certainly a safety net should either of them chose to depart. Carlos would slot in nicely and be ready to perform on day 1. So this year may be tougher than it would seem for him, he made a great reputation for himself last year and having to stay at the same mid-field team will make it hard to carry too much momentum through 2017.
Hopefully the Toro Rosso is as good as it looks and with a current spec F1 engine that will be able to improve throughout the year he will be able to score more points and finish higher in the standings. Just a slight improvement will keep his rep intact and open up his options for what seems like a merry-go-round in the driver market with some potentially big rides up for grabs.
I can’t see Kvyat causing him to many issues so he just needs to concentrate on the others around him and so he can work hand in hand with the Russian to help the car overall rather than be distracted by inter team rivalry. I see big things for him and would love to see him podium at least once should the chance show it self.