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.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.