© Getty Images

F1 2015 Driver Review: Daniil Kvyat

Leave a comment

Daniil Kvyat

Team: Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 26
Races: 18
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: 2nd (Hungary)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 95
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.

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

Leave a comment

Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”