Daniil Kvyat banked his first career podium finish last month in the Hungarian Grand Prix with second place in the Red Bull RB10-Renault, salvaging something out of what’s been a tough graduation year into the top Red Bull team.
However it was his drive to fourth in today’s Belgian Grand Prix that might have even been better.
Courtesy of a strategic gamble come good from the pit wall and a series of late-race overtakes, Kvyat converted his 12th place grid position into fourth place, for his third top-five result of the season (fourth at Monaco).
In the process, he also moved ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the championship standings. The Russian now has 57 points to Ricciardo’s 51.
“It was a very interesting race and really good fun today,” Kvyat said post-race. “I had a lot of overtaking opportunities and the car performed well.
“The strategy from the team to keep me out during the virtual safety car was good and we were able to have a strong last stint. The team did a good job and we scored some solid points. We should be happy with the performance today and hopefully we can continue this form over the next few races.”
Team principal Christian Horner also hailed Kvyat’s performance.
“Dany drove a very strong race to finish fourth from his starting grid position of 12th,” Horner said. “He produced some very strong overtaking maneuvers and the strategy worked very well, so we were able to score some very useful points.”
Ricciardo made a dynamic start and got up to third by the end of the first lap, and forced Sergio Perez to pit early to cover him in what could have become a battle for the final podium position.
However he lost power going into a chicane during the race, and it cut his day short.
Down at Toro Rosso, Max Verstappen’s adopted “home race” – the Dutch driver has a heavy racing history and some family background in Belgium – ended with his third points score in the last four races.
Verstappen, the 17-year-old rookie, had only one points score in his first seven Grands Prix. He ended eighth on Sunday after starting 15th, and now has 26 points in his first season, one ahead of Perez and two clear of Nico Hulkenberg.
He almost got Kimi Raikkonen for seventh but ran wide at Les Combes.
“What an entertaining race, it was a great achievement to start from so far back and finish eighth in the end!” Verstappen said. “My pace was very strong and I enjoyed the overtaking, so we can be very happy about today’s race.
“The car felt great and we were able to keep up with Ferrari and Williams. I really enjoyed it and even if some of the overtakes were a bit risky, when you start from so far back you have to go for it if you want to move forward.
“It wasn’t an easy start to the weekend, but we managed to do a great job in the end and I would like to thank the team for the big effort and my home crowd for the support, we can all be really happy with today’s P8!”
The frustrations continued to mount for his fellow rookie teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., who failed to finish his fourth consecutive race. On this occasion, he retired after two stints to save engine mileage, but was already hamstrung from the start of the race when the car missed the start due to an electrical issue.
“We didn’t have a good start to the race because an electrical problem related to the engine on Carlos’ car meant we had to bring the car into the garage before the race had even started,” said Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost.
“We fixed the issue with the cable and he was able to re-join the race, but he was already a couple of laps behind. We decided to continue the race because in Spa you never know what can happen, and maybe a Safety Car or some rain could’ve helped us, but unfortunately this never happened, so with 11 laps to go we called him in to save some engine mileage.
“I’d like to apologize to Carlos for this, as it’s now the fourth race in a row where he can’t finish a race because of technical problems.”
Sainz has four scores in the six races he’s finished this year, but it’s been since Montreal in early June since the Spaniard has seen a checkered flag.