Team: Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 26
Best Finish: 2nd (Hungary)
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 7th
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
Daniil Kvyat was thrust into the limelight this year at Red Bull following Sebastian Vettel’s shock departure from the team, placing him under immense pressure to try and make up for the German and pose a serious challenge to teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
And that is exactly what Kvyat did once he had found his feet with Red Bull. The opening part of the year was quiet for him as he appeared to struggle to get to grips with the RB11, but he soon found his feet, finishing fourth at Monaco and keeping calm amid the madness of Hungary to score his first podium finish.
However, it was during the final run of flyaways where Kvyat really looked at his best. He was unlucky not to finish on the podium in Singapore when early pit stops backfired thanks to two safety car periods, while he even looked capable of winning early on at COTA before ultimately crashing out of the race.
Finishing ahead of Ricciardo in the standings during his first year with Red Bull is a big, big victory for Kvyat. The Russian has proven that he is more than ready to lead a top F1 team, even after just two seasons in the series.
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
The Russian sophomore produced a distinctly better second season than his first, which was always going to be the case in jumping from Toro Rosso to Red Bull. With seventh in the championship, Kvyat has now finished in a position higher than slightly older but still relative “young gun” peers Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean have at any point in their respective careers.
Kvyat’s consistent run of form in the lower placings, following a failure to start his Red Bull debut at Melbourne due to the first of many mechanical ailments, saw him score in 10 of the next 12 races. Including among those results were particular star turns at high-downforce circuits that suited the car best, where horsepower was not as important, with second in Hungary and fourth in Monaco.
A rare unforced error tossed away a potential top-five result in Austin; Kvyat lost control off the second-to-last corner and sustained a heavy accident. But that was one of only a handful of mistakes. It was easy to forget Kvyat is only 21 and given the attention paid to his former team’s pair of rookies, he was quietly solid all year. He certainly proved he was worthy of the jump up, and beat Ricciardo on merit.