Kvyat escapes spin to qualify P9 on Monaco debut

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Daniil Kvyat has qualified in an excellent ninth place for the Monaco Grand Prix today, but it all very nearly ended in tears when a spin in Q1 threatened to end his day early.

Kvyat, who is racing at Monaco for the very first time this weekend, spun on the exit of the tunnel. Somehow, he kept it out of the barriers, and only made light contact with his front wing. He was able to get back to the pits for repairs, and eventually set a time that was good enough to get him through to Q2.

In the second session, both Kvyat and teammate Jean-Eric Vergne managed to finish inside the top ten ahead of some big names, and duly held their own in the final part of qualifying.

Vergne, whose career appears to be at a crossroads after missing out on the Red Bull seat last year, qualified seventh behind Kimi Raikkonen and ahead of Kevin Magnussen, whilst Kvyat managed to finish ninth in the final session ahead of Sergio Perez.

However, given that this was the first time he has raced at Monaco, it was a remarkable display. He finished ahead of established drivers such as Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Massa, and will be hoping to score some points tomorrow.

Kvyat is under investigation for blocking Maldonado during qualifying, but the Russian was unaware of any indiscretion on track. For now though, he will be celebrating a fine result that so nearly wasn’t to be.

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

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Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.