Kvyat or Gutierrez…who’s not gelling with the team?

Friday’s Free Practice session in Spain for the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend transpired like it normally does but there was a new driver in the Red Bull Racing (RBR) car and the Toro Rosso (STR) car. In fact, the drivers swapped positions. Daniil Kvyat was demoted to the STR ride to fill the seat of Max Verstappen who moved in to Kvyat’s ride at RBR.

Watching the NBC Sports broadcast, there were some comments made by the guys suggesting that perhaps part of this move was down to the Russian, Kvyat, not really gelling with the team. Their sources are universally better than mine so I take their word for it but it did make me wonder a bit about what RBR demands from a driver as far as gelling goes.

The Russian had a good first season at the team in 2015 but Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said he had fallen off the pace of his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. Fair enough but let’s be honest, that’s a hefty measuring stick for a young kid who inherited the seat when Sebastian Vettel left for Ferrari.

Sure, you would expect him to be pressured to perform but to me, Danny was just moving from that stage of rookie to potential challenger and pressing the limits more as his race craft developed. He was bound to make mistakes along the way. Just like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and many others before him.

There is more to gelling with a team than your overall pace and perhaps this is where the issues roost. Maybe the cool exterior and attitude just isn’t what the team are looking for and again, when compared to the effusive, gregarious and downright charming personality of his teammate, Ricciardo, that’s a huge measuring stick. Even Vettel wasn’t that damned infectious. I do think there is another side of Daniel Ricciardo that just hasn’t completely revealed its ruthless self yet.

In all, Kvyat will have a hard road ahead and his first goal is to beat his new teammate, Carlos Sainz, at STR. Doing that will show any other prospective employers that sending him down was a mistake. He has to show his ability and put the demotion behind him.

When we talk about gelling with a team, perhaps Haas F1’s Esteban Gutierrez’s explosive mind vomit on Friday would be an example on how not to win friends at your team and if folks felt Kvyat was not quite gelling, how about this from Esteban:

“I honestly put myself aside from this because it’s not really my responsibility to fix the car,” said Gutierrez.

“The team has to get on top of this. I am here to drive, to drive as fast as possible, and it is what I really love doing.

“It’s not nice because it’s making me look very bad to the outside as a driver, personally.

“All the fucking great job I’m doing on the inside is not really perceived by the outside. So it’s a little bit frustrating.

“Also, showing my pace, I’ve been quick, I just hope to get the car that I deserve in order to put the results on paper.”

Suggested to Gutierrez it was difficult to remain positive, again he pointed an accusing finger at the team.

“I don’t worry about myself. At the moment I feel very good,” added Gutierrez.

“But this pressure is not on me – this pressure is on the people responsible for it.”

This doesn’t seem to be the voice of a driver who is thinking long-term with the team or a driver who is there because he had to pay big dollars for the seat. It sounds like a driver who is there because Ferrari put him there through their partner relationship with Haas F1.

When a driver divorces himself from the team as well as the efforts and issues they are facing, it’s never a good sign. Frustration can surely get the best of all of us but the team won’t take these words lightly. They are all professionals and no doubt doing the best they can for a new team who is punching way above their weight.

Esteban has a reason to be frustrated for sure. He’s struggled terribly this season and scored no points while his teammate, Romain Grosjean, has been the darling of the team and press giving them all of their points in what otherwise has been a real revelation this season.

Regardless, Lewis Hamilton has had his issues and so has Sebastian Vettel with two DNF’s and neither of them have divorced themselves from the team, said they are here to drive only and the team has to get their crap together. I could be wrong but I can’t imagine that Esteban is long for the F1 world with an attitude like that. Team’s beat themselves up enough and no one wants to have their driver slating them in the press. Robert Kubica was known to do this from time to time at BMW and it got tedious and reflected very poorly on him.


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I’m surprised that you don’t see him as a pay driver. That is, of course what he is. This is why he’s had an outburst at the level of performance of his team (his side of the garage). If I were him, and showed up with all that Carlos Slim money, only to find out that the money was being funneled over to the other side I think I’d be pretty pissed too. Haas simply doesn’t have enough quality staff to cover two cars. The obvious choice is to put the best team with the best driver, understood. But I… Read more »


I think Esteban has been like this from the start. If you watch the piece that NBC did on Haas F1 at the start of the season.there is a scene at a team meeting where Esteban is telling the team to get their sh*t together, and Gunther had to calm him down and remind him that the team is new and doing its best.

The Captain

Yep, that was the first thing this reminded me of. Grosjean was even trying to mediate the situation.

He’s looked like someone under too much pressure to ‘get to Ferrari’ from day one.


I think the comparison of how Verstappen and Kvyat have done in relation to their new team mates shows how easy the two cars are to drive. That both are slower than their team mates is not surprising given it is the first time either has driven the car. However Max was relatively close to Daniel, so I think he is probably moving to a better car that gives him more confidence in how it responds, Daniil’s poor pace compared to Carlos shows that he is taking longer to adapt to the Toro Rosso, despite Sainz being the fastest of… Read more »

charlie white

The countdown clock on Esteban’s exit has begun. Yes, he came with the Ferrari engines but after seeing Jean Eric Verne standing around in the Ferrari garage, Gene should put him in the Haas and give Esteban to Pirelli for testing.

Tim C

“explosive mind vomit” . . . Yep, that about sums his attitude up. I really don’t think Gene Haas will take to kindly to that type of garbage from one of his drivers. Esteban may survive this year, but I seriously doubt he’ll be back next season. The clock is ticking . . .

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

I was feeling bad for Esteban. Was that is.


Esteban hasn’t looked too happy to be part of Haas since jump this year. Just look at the feature NBCSN did during testing at the debrief from the second test. Hopefully, this opens a door for Rossi eventually since he has shown some ability at Manor and now in Indycar. Too bad Carlos Slim isn’t his patron.


He came into the team as the “ugly duckling” you know, the guy with the fat checkbook and the guy that Ferrari forced upon Haas, the guy who needs to pay to get the seat, the guy who doesn’t deserve a place in F1 because he has no talent he is just a lucky kid with powerful friends. But is he? The thing is that in this F1 era everyone is a pay driver to some extent every one needs a backer or sponsor or someone willing to pay for the development of a drivers career for him to succeed… Read more »