Toro Rosso boss delighted with Kvyat’s first half-season

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Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has heaped praise on rookie driver Daniil Kvyat for his performances across the first half of his debut season in Formula 1.

The Russian youngster joined Toro Rosso at the beginning of the season as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement following the Australian’s promotion to Red Bull. Although he has only scored six points, he has enjoyed a number of good runs in races and has had the edge on experienced teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.

“He is doing a very good job,” Tost told Toro Rosso’s official website. “Taking into consideration how little mileage he was able to do before the season, he is driving very well, showing that he has natural speed.

“Equally importantly, he has had no accidents, nor has he made any mistakes. He is doing a fantastic job.”

As for Vergne? Tost is pleased with his results, but appeared to be a little less enthusiastic about the Frenchman’s season so far.

“He has suffered a lot with reliability issues, but when his car was running fine, he delivered good performances,” he said. “Thanks to his experience he makes an important contribution to the team’s technical development and I’m convinced that there is still more to come from him.”

Tost is not the only fan of Kvyat, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also praising the Russian for his first half-season in Formula 1.

“He has been sensational and has been the rookie of the season so far,” Horner told Autosport. “His raw pace and speed, considering the jump he has made from GP3, is hugely impressive.”

Quite what the future holds for Vergne is unclear, but it is evident that Kvyat is a big part of the future for Red Bull. Although a move to the senior team may be unlikely, he is certainly making waves during his junior year in Formula 1.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”