Thursday, September 28, 2017

Opinion: Daniil Kvyat's Demotion Destroyed His Confidence...And His Career

Daniil Kvyat walks away from his wrecked
car at the Singapore Grand Prix.
It's hard not to feel bad for Daniil Kvyat.

The Russian Formula One driver entered the pinnacle of motorsport in 2014 for Red Bull's junior team, Scuderia Toro Rosso. Kvyat had a respectable enough season to be promoted to Red Bull after only one year at the Italian team.

In 2015, Kvyat was teammates with Daniel Ricciardo, who had just come off of a season where he outperformed then-teammate and reigning four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, winning three Grands Prix to Vettel's zero. Kvyat's 2015 season was highlighted by a second-place finish in Hungary, and outscoring Ricciardo in the Drivers' Championship (95-92).

Kvyat returned to Red Bull to start the 2016 season. After a podium finish in China, he proceeded to have a difficult home race in Sochi, finishing fifteenth after an opening-lap clash with Vettel's Ferrari.

At the same time, Max Verstappen, the teenage Dutchman who filled the void left by Kvyat at Toro Rosso, was proving he was worthy of having an F1 ride even at his young age.

After Sochi, Red Bull made a controversial decision: Kvyat and Verstappen swapped rides. Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull, while Kvyat was sent back to Toro Rosso.

Oh boy.

Now, don't get me wrong, Verstappen is a great young driver, and his win at Spain in his maiden drive for Red Bull proved that.

But Kvyat is a great driver too. I firmly believe that if he hadn't been demoted so soon, he'd be performing better than he has recently.

Since his return to Toro Rosso, Kvyat has only finished in the points five times, has a best finish of ninth (twice), and has been comprehensively outperformed by his Toro Rosso teammate, Carlos Sainz. In 2017 alone, Sainz has scored 48 points, while Kvyat only has four to his name. Only one driver who has entered every race this season (Marcus Ericsson) is ranked lower in the championship standings.

So what have Red Bull's management done now?

Pierre Gasly will be replacing Kvyat at Toro Rosso, effective beginning this weekend at Malaysia.

It looks like Kvyat's F1 career is over. That's a shame; he looked strong in 2015, and I think a lot of people have forgotten that. I also think that his drop in performance is likely due to the fact that his demotion destroyed his confidence.

Unfortunately, it now appears that it also destroyed his career.

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