2015 F1 driver rankings #10: Daniil Kvyat

2015 F1 season review

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Daniil Kvyat

Beat team mate in qualifying7/19
Beat team mate in race8/14
Races finished16/18
Laps spent ahead of team mate430/966
Daniil Kvyat 2015 form guide

Daniil Kvyat’s first season with Red Bull was a curious one: he delivered solid results throughout but they didn’t always accurately reflect the quality of his driving. But a close look at his performance – rather than just the outcomes – makes it clear he was on an upward trend.

The RB11 was a tricky car at the beginning of the year and at times Kvyat coped with it better than Daniel Ricciardo. In Malaysia – his first start as the car broke down on the way to the grid in Australia – he led Ricciardo home despite tangling with Nico Hulkenberg. He also came home in front of his team mate in Monaco after getting a great start.

In between those races were a few disappointing outings including a Q1 elimination in Bahrain and a lacklustre weekend in Spain which culminated in him being passed by Carlos Sainz Jnr on the last lap. Silverstone should have been a high point, but he spun away a better result when the rain came.

The year offered few podium opportunities for the Red Bull drivers but Kvyat seized one of the best with second place in Hungary. However it was telling his race engineer called it “more than we deserved” after Kvyat had struggled earlier in the race and benefited late on from his team mate’s misfortune. That good fortune was conspicuously absent in Singapore, however, where both Safety Car periods fell against his favour – not that he had the pace to match Ricciardo. The pair contrasted sharply in the USA as well, where Kvyat looked ragged while battling the Mercedes and eventually crashed.

Spa was a better reflection of Kvyat’s steadily improving form as he climbed from twelfth on the grid to a solid fourth. In Mexico he deserved to finish in front of Ricciardo and with better luck might have been on the podium again. He produced an excellent qualifying performance in Brazil and delivered more points. That proved enough for him to end the year ahead of his team mate in the championship, but that gave a somehwat misleading impression of how much progress he had made.

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View race-by-race notes on Daniil Kvyat

Australia – Wasn’t able to accompany his team mate into Q3, and then failed to start the race at all following a gearbox problem on his first lap. A disappointing start to his first grand prix for Red Bull.

Malaysia – Fared slightly better with Red Bull’s brake problems and finished ahead of Ricciardo despite being tipped into a spin by Perez at one stage. He felt this was the most they could take from a race in which both Red Bulls finished behind their Toro Rosso siblings.

China – A weekend of problems for the Russian with brake issues on Friday, followed by a loss of power in qualifying that left him 12th on the grid. Lost places at the start as one of only two drivers to start on Medium tyres and unnecessarily cost his team mate and himself time by fighting before his Renault engine blew on lap 15, ending a forgettable weekend.

Bahrain – Failed to make it out of Q1 after spinning in final practice. He gained two places at the start but lost them on the next lap to Massa and Maldonado. However from then on his recovery drive picked up pace and he brought his car home in the points, re-passing the long-running Massa with three laps to go.

Spain – Also missed out on some running on Friday and Saturday, but managed to out-qualify Ricciardo for the first time this year. He made a very poor start, however, dropping back five places. Although he got back in the hunt for points he lost ninth to Sainz on the final lap after the pair tangled at turn one.

Monaco – Described himself as feeling comfortable at the wheel of the RB11 for a change and qualified fifth behind his team mate. That became fourth at turn one – a position he held at the end for his best F1 finish so far.

Canada – Out-qualified Ricciardo for the second time since they became team mates. Realistically he was never going to be able to keep Massa and Vettel behind in the race, but he had to keep his foot down to stay ahead of the recovering Grosjean.

Austria – Got into Q3 but also had to take a ten-place grid penalty, leaving him 15th on the grid. Collided with Perez at the start and had to replace his front wing, but other bodywork damage made the car “very tough” to drive, and he finished 12th.

Britain – A spin late in the race when the rain returned certainly cost him a better finish – at least fifth, probably fourth in front of the Williams drivers. Until that point he’d been on great form, qualifying seventh behind six faster cars and using an early pit stop to jump ahead of Hulkenberg.

Hungary – Out-paced Ricciardo in practice but was disappointed with his qualifying effort which left him seventh. After locking up heavily at the start of the race he was ordered to let Ricciardo through, which he was not happy about, but he caught a lucky break when he switched to soft tyres before the Safety Car came out. Although he had to run a long, 36-lap stint on them and picked up a ten-second penalty for going off the track while passing Hamilton, Kvyat steered clear of the unfolding chaos to grab a career-best second place.

Belgium – Was given a reprimand after cutting up Nasr in the pit lane during practice. Q2 was very tight and Kvyat missed the cut for the top ten by less than two-tenths of a second. But he made steady progress at the start and was third by lap three, then overhauled Massa. Like Ricciardo an early pit stop helped him continue his progress, and he was fifth at half-distance. After pitting for soft tyres he made his way back to the same position – taking Verstappen, Raikkonen, Massa and Perez – and gained another place when Vettel dropped out.

Italy – Like his team mate, Kvyat took a hatful of power unit change penalties as Red Bull had an eye on the opportunities offered by the next race at Singapore. He followed Ricciardo through the field but having fallen behind his team mate at the start he wasn’t able to get back ahead again, though he wasn’t far behind at the flag.

Singapore – Kept Ricciardo honest in practice and qualifying up until the crunch time. He nearly got past Raikkonen for third at the start, then had the misfortune to make both his pit stops moments before the two Safety Car periods. That left him sixth behind Bottas.

Japan – Although he was quickest in the rain on Friday Kvyat knew it was irrelevant. When the track dried out he struggled with a “messy” (his word) final practice and an even messier qualifying session – a straightforward mistake at turn ten had destructive consequences and left him starting from the pits. He struggled with brake temperatures and tyre life in his newly-built car in the race, and was frustrated by his overtake button not working.

Russia – Believed he could have improved and potentially joined his team mate in Q3 with the benefit of a second lap in Q2, but wasn’t able to fit one in. He made big gains at the start, jumping up to seventh, but was clearly slower than his team mate. Kvyat didn’t pit under the Safety Car and therefore had a more conventional race. Massa passed him easily but he inherited fifth place after Raikkonen was penalised.

United States – Lined up alongside Ricciardo and got ahead of him at the start, but had a rough ride from there on. Went off trying to pass Rosberg, dropped back much more quickly than Ricciardo as the moisture dissipated, and eventually spun into a wall.

Mexico – His engineer called his qualifying run a “solid effort”: he pipped his team mate by a thousandth of a second despite losing four-tenths in the final sector. Kvyat won further praise from Christian Horner after the chequered flag, having been on course for a podium until he was easily passed by Bottas in the first DRS zone.

Brazil – Described his Saturday effort as “probably one of my best qualifying laps this year” having struggled in the second sector on Friday. He was jumped by Hulkenberg at the first round of pit stops and thereafter had an uneventful run to seven.

Abu Dhabi – Was still figuring out his in qualifying after an electrical problem kept him out of final practice, but nonetheless made it into Q3. More problems surfaced in the race leaving him even more short of top-end performance than usual: Massa and Grosjean duly relegated him to tenth.

Over to you

Let down by a slow start to the season but really pulled it back in the second half. He’s got the speed, although still prone to mistakes.

What’s your verdict on Daniil Kvyat’s 2015 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “2015 F1 driver rankings #10: Daniil Kvyat”

  1. We should not forget it was only his second season. Most likley one of the few racers since the beginning of these lists that finishes behind his teammate whilst having more points. Not his biggest fan but I reckon he could beat Ricciardo again next year if he continues his end of season form.

    1. Good point, its easy to forget that isn’t it @xtwl. I must say that I didn’t expect too much of him, but he did better than I feared he would.

    2. @xtwl That’s fair enough but the ranking is only about how they performed this year. I don’t give bonus points for inexperience (or vice versa).

      1. @keithcollantine It wasn’t as much a comment on ‘he should be higher up’ because I don’t think so. It was more a comment on the things we say and have gone to expect from a Red Bull driver.

  2. I’m not convinced about this upward trend. He was overdriving quite badly and had a terrible weekend in Suzuka, and as mentioned in the article he crashed out in the US.

    At many occasions he was made to look good because of Ricciardo’s bad luck. I expect Kvyat to lose out in 2016 and being replaced by one of the Toro Rosso rookies.

    1. I’m not convinced either. He was excellent in Montreal and Spielberg and scored well in Monaco as well.

      It’s not really an upward trend to have another couple of great races (Spa, Mexico) and still as many mediocre ones as during the first half.

      I can’t emphasise it enough that pace-wise he was almost always visibly slower than Ricciardo and the only times he was actually quicker, he literally almost always scored big. He’s lucky that only a few know outside the team (and even fewer journos) just how poor he was compared to Ricciardo. It’s a lifeline really.

      But yeah, I expect the same as you, @me4me, next season.

  3. Interestingly quite a few of us (including myself) put Kvyat above Ricciardo in our ranking.

    Now thinking about it that might be due to the huge expectations that came with Ricciardo this year, and the cautions regarding Kvyat.
    Kvyat (IMO) clearly stepped up more versus expectations, but probably not if compared to his team mate on ‘naked performance’ only.

  4. He performed well under pressure (bouncing back nicely after bad performances), but race pace wise he was indeed behind Ricciardo. There were also too many occasions when he seemed not not maximize his result given the circumstances, but he had also some good moments, so I would say, a bit of mixed bag with him this season and he certainly needs to improve in maximizing his results at more weekends.

  5. I agree with the #10 ranking. This guy is a good, solid driver who had a decent year all things considered. He was promoted probably 1 year too early but that was due to unforeseen circumstances and RBR did what they had to do at the time. I would say he underperformed early on in the season (some bad luck there too) and then may have been guilty of overdriving at some points in the season. He seemed to be driving on the ragged edge where his team mate seemed more controlled in his approach. The kick in the nuts he got from Marko no doubt contributed to his improvement and probably wasn’t a bad thing. Looking forward to seeing how he approaches 2016.

  6. Compared to Vettel last year, I think he performed better and was closer to Ricciardo.

    He definitely became better in second half of the season and legitimately beat Ricciardo on few occasions. But somehow, he is still the least talked of the 4 Red Bull Toro Rosso drivers. For some strange reason, I think his good performance are not upping his reputation but probably bring down Ricciardo’s (kinda how Massa’s performances are bringing down Bottas’ reputation rather than increasing Massa’s).

    I think 2016 will probably be a better reflection of his performance, it will be only his 3rd season in F1 so he is bound to get better quite much. I think Ricciardo will be tested more next year.

    1. Well as he beat Ricciardo this year if he improves Ricciardo may be out on his ear and a one season wonder. Kyvatt has had 2 years in F1 and beaten Vergne and Ricciardo, maybe not with a style to everyones taste but he will improve and beating these 2 is a hell of an achievment. Maybe his nationality does not work for some people. Last year Ricciardo had enormous luck and was lauded for it.

      1. Kvyat didn’t beat Vergne. Kvyat scored 8 points to Vergne’s 22, which is rather disappointing. And last year Ricciardo did not have enormous luck. His was only slightly better than Vettel but in the end, Ricciardo still did the better job than Vettel last year.

        1. @ultimateuzair

          Ricciardo DID have enormous luck last year. It’s amazing how quickly people forget that Vettel’s car had a problem or broke down completely in 1 out of 2 sessions whereas Ricciardo’s car had about 2 technical failures throughout the season. Obviously an exageration but especially the first 6 races Vettel was sidelined more than he was driving and I can’t remember any technical problems for RIC besides Malaysia and Brazil where he wasn’t going to beat Vettel anyway. Also Vettel suffered a number of poor pitstops that cost him. Ricciardo’s pitstops were always good. It’s true that Ricciardo did do a better job but his 2014 season was tremendously flattered by Vettel’s misfortune.

        2. Yes he did do a better job than Vettel last year but for me that was his only good year in 4. Everyone can have an off year Vettel had one last year, Hamilton in 2011 etc. Difference is Vettel is a 4 time champion with one bad year Ricciardo is a 0 time champion with 1 good year. Bottom line for me was Kyvatt was better this year and if he beats Ricciardo next year and Red Bull need to get Verstappen in the big team the year after it could be good bye to Ricciardo.

        3. Wow so Vergne beat Kyvatt and Ricciardo 2 years running and is out of F1…go figure. Always had Vergne as better than Ricciardo amazing he has not got a drive.

  7. Ricciardo is overrated. And that is because he always laughs and seems happy and fun. He made some good overtakes but f1 is not only about overtakes and, for instance, verstappen is even way better at it considering his age and the huge margin of improvement he could have. Ricciardo would probably be destroyed by verstappen.
    On the other hand kvyat is not that kind of guy and in this way he resembles raikkonen. He doesn’ t shows his teeth too much and this attitude seems to work against him. The fact that you put kvyat after hulk, beaten by perez, and after ricciardo tells all of it. Kvyat should definitely rank higher!! And in the first half of the season he had bad luck too, so no excuses.

  8. He had a few standout races, but to me Ricciardo looked quite a lot stronger most of the time. The way the Red Bull cars were constantly involved in dogfights meant that Ricciardo couldn’t always capitalize on it. I haven’t really looked at the numbers, but the seat of my pants thinks that when you account for reliability, the timing of that reliability, race luck, collisions etc it would be skewed as much as 30-40 points to Ricciardo.

    1. I always go by the actual result so Kyvatt beat Ricciardo and if he does next year as well then what for Ricciardo?

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