Daniil Kvyat is an extremely talented driver. He can get the best out of any car when he is at his best. Unfortunately, Kvyat’s reputation has been that of a driver with immense potential maligned by immaturity as well as being easily prone to mistakes. When the Russian driver was given the Red Bull seat at the start of 2015 season he excelled, but fell flat and was quickly demoted four races into the 2016 to Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso. He was replaced by none other than Max Verstappen. After spending 2018 with Ferrari as a development driver, he surprisingly returned to the Toro Rosso family, and it has surely worked out for the both parties.
Daniil Kvyat scored his first podium since that infamous 2016 season in a memorable 2019 German Grand Prix. The result came from a combination of a well thought out and bold strategy by the team, convincing and determined driving, and, to be honest, quite a bit of circumstantial luck. At one point he was close to a second place finish only to be pipped by Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. Nonetheless, it was Toro Rosso’s first podium in over ten years, and another quality and no less important finish for Honda, who supplies Red Bull’s and Toro Rosso’s engines.
Formula 1 is at the beginning of what is often coined “Silly Season.” It is a time full of movement, rumors, and discussion between drivers and teams as both parties try to get prepared for the 2020 season. At the half-way point in the season, constructors have had enough time to assess their current driver lineup and if they are the right ones to get the best out of the car. Sometimes, as seen in the case of McLaren, constructors will announce the renewal of their driver’s contracts or move in a different direction. Even though a driver may have more than a year on his contract, it does not necessarily imply he is secured a spot on the team for the following season.
Kvyat was in a unique position during last September when Toro Rosso announced his signing. As Dan Thorn of WTF1 pointed out at the time, Daniel Ricciardo’s departure from Red Bull left a void of drivers within Red Bull’s junior program, which is the constructor’s preferred method of signing drivers. Kvyat was a familiar face at an unfamiliar time.
The move paid off in spades for Toro Rosso and Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat has clearly matured, which he desperately lacked in the years prior. Team boss, Franz Tost, stated,
“Daniil is much more mature now. He understands the technical side much better.”
The strong technical understanding is just as important as a driver’s ability on the track. If he can accurately discuss what is going on with the car in practice, qualifying, and the race, the team can better determine what, if any, adjustments should be implemented. Kvyat looks to be the entire package now.
Fortunately for Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat is not the only impressive driver this season. Rookie Alex Albon has been stellar and may be a contributing factor to getting the best out of Kvyat. Albon, who finished sixth on Sunday at the Hockenheimring and helped push Toro Rosso to fourth in the Constructor Standings, has been extremely composed and effective this season. At times, Albon has been rumored to make the jump to Red Bull for the 2020 season. All in all, everything is going right for both Albon and Kvyat, which bodes well for their negotiations for next year.
While Albon has been considered for a move up to a top team, it is important to remember that Kvyat is only 25 years old, and should be in the discussion for a move to Red Bull or at least a seat in Formula 1 next year. The only hindrance to his return to F1 was his issues revolving around his maturity and his far too often mistakes. Daniil has done everything to quell those concerns and expressed as much in his post race interview,
“Hopefully I can send a message out there that I’m ready to fight for these kind of moments on a consistent basis. There is no stronger message than a podium like this.”
Red Bull Racing looks to be the only hope for a driver to move up to a top three team as Mercedes and Ferrari are unlikely to change their driver lineup for the 2020 season. Pierre Gasly, who was widely impressive last year with Toro Rosso, has not found the same success in his first season with Red Bull. In fact, he has not even been remotely close to Max Verstappen on the track, and this weekend’s German Grand Prix did little to help his case. He made a plethora of errors during what was an undeniably tricky race. Most of these mistakes, however, were down to driver error and he never was able to post a lap time comparable to Verstappen. At this stage it would be surprising should Red Bull decide to keep him on for next season.
One thing drivers will keep in mind when looking for new seats is the long term implications following the 2021 regulations, which could create parody among the constructors. A move to Renault, for example, may be more enticing even though the team is struggling this year. The same could be said for McLaren, even though the team has not only been impressive this year but has also already decided to keep both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris for next season.
At the end of the day it would be in Toro Rosso’s interest to keep Daniil Kvyat on for next year. Rumors have circulated that Red Bull’s junior program is not what it once was, and there is no specific driver that could see a promotion to the team for 2020. Kvyat would continue to provide stability and consistency until things work out. Franz Tost went as far as to say,
“I personally hope that we can continue with these two drivers, but in the end this a decision from Red Bull. I think the decision will not be made before the end of September or the beginning of October.”
Haas might be another team that could utilize the services of Kvyat as Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen find themselves on the hot seat following another clash at the German Grand Prix. Even Renault might be on the look out for a driver with the constructor possibly moving on from Nico Hulkenberg.
Daniil Kvyat no doubt deserves a seat for 2020. He has been in the spotlight for all the right reasons this season, and even though Toro Rosso has cooled down in recent races, prior to their stellar result at the German GP, the constructor was performing at a high level thanks to its drivers. The question should not be whether or not Kvyat will have a drive for next season, but rather where he will land.
Photo Credit: Unsplash- Pablo Franco