Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2020

2020 F1 driver rankings #13: Daniil Kvyat

2020 F1 season review

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While his team mate Pierre Gasly produced unquestionably the shock result of the season with his Italian Grand Prix victory, Daniil Kvyat’s campaign was more ordinary. He didn’t click with the AT01 from the outset in the same way his team mate did.

Kvyat has been through several highs and lows in the seven years since he made his F1 debut, and by his own admission when faced with adversity his head has sometimes dropped. This was notably so following his relegation from Red Bull early in 2016.

On this occasion he persevered. He did so admirably, even if he was unable to replicate his team mate’s standards. Kvyat ended the season performing considerably better than he had a few months earlier, even though he faced another blow as it became clear the decision had already been taken to replace him with Yuki Tsunoda for the 2021 F1 season.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that over the full season Kvyat’s results too often paled in comparison to those of his team mate, even allowing for a certain amount of fortune in Gasly’s Monza victory. After all, Gasly was leading the pair in the points prior to that race, and it’s not as though Kvyat suffered considerably worse reliability problems, with the exception of a tyre failure which caused a massive crash at Silverstone.

Kvyat’s best performance of the season by far came at Imola, though here too Gasly comfortably out-qualified him and ran ahead until suffering a power unit failure. Following a late restart Kvyat took advantage of fresh tyres superbly, picking off a series of rivals and putting a fabulous pass on Charles Leclerc. He came in fourth, tantalising close to a podium finish.

Daniil Kvyat

Beat team mate in qualifying4/17
Beat team mate in race5/13
Races finished16/17
Laps spent ahead of team mate268/818
Qualifying margin+0.16s

At the beginning of the year Kvyat was some way off Gasly’s pace. At the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix he went out in Q1, while Gasly reached the final round of qualifying. Kvyat only out-qualified his team mate on four occasions, but the steady gains he made over the season are reflected by the fact he came out ahead in each of the final two races.

Kvyat generally gave a better account of himself on Sundays, though not always. His Algarve race was poor, coming in two laps down while Gasly made another of his incursions well into the top 10.

Long before the end of the season it became clear that, following such a disappointing campaign, Kvyat’s best hope of remaining at AlphaTauri was if Tsunoda failed to earn his superlicence and could not be promoted for 2021. This didn’t happen, so Kvyat is out, and this time it may well prove final. That’s an unfortunate outcome after a season in which he can be pleased with the gains he made, but it cannot have come as a total shock under the circumstances.

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Author information

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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36 comments on “2020 F1 driver rankings #13: Daniil Kvyat”

  1. Jose Lopes da Silva
    20th January 2021, 9:08

    But he got a podium in Hockenheim 2019. In the right conditions, in can deliver an excellent performance… (the problem is that when the right conditions appear once a year.)
    Kvyat was at his usual level. Some people still believe that he was better than Ricciardo in 2015.

    1. If he didn’t get demoted from Red Bull, would he have won Spain 2016? We will never know…

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        20th January 2021, 11:20

        Why not? He was more experienced than Verstappen, overall and with that car. And, as he proved in Hockenheim, he is able to get podiums in the correct circumstances.
        Would he cope with Ricciardo for the rest of 2016 after that win? Unlikely.

      2. I’m doubtful Kvyat could have done it, Vertsappen was fantastic that day, the way he defended was sublime, and though I agree that the Red Bull was ‘hooked up’ and working well, I really think Max made the difference ultimately as he has done many times since. I can’t picture Daniil pulling off the same result.

        1. Jose Lopes da Silva
          20th January 2021, 13:36

          Personally, I’m really, really doubtful. I did not went to check the laptimes of Kvyat vs Ricciardo in the first races, and compare against Verstappen vs Ricciardo in Spain. So I can’t speculate based on data. But what I think is, even if he had won the race, which might have happened, it wouldn’t have made no difference.
          Kvyat was clearly beaten by Riccardo in 2015 but some people kept being misled by the points. That’s not how it works. And the careers of Ricciardo and Kvyat post 2016 are there to prove it. Ricciardo coped with Verstappen, won over Hulkenberg and won over Ocon. Kvyat could not do what Gasly did this year: being demoted but rebuild himself at Red Bull “B”.
          Kvyat is among the best drivers in the world and raced twice in F1 having had the skills for it. Fortunately there is meritocracy in the Red Bull ranks and he doesn’t own the seat.

  2. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    20th January 2021, 9:17

    The gap between Magnussen and Grosjean is getting silly now.

    1. I ask myself the same question every day when the next position is revealed: did I miss Magnussen’s ranking?

      Of all the teammates with ‘not much between them’ I had Grosjean and Magnussen as the closest.

      1. Wow someone has a different opinion to you. Whats going on?

        1. Happens quite often, and leads to insightful discussions with many other commenters.

          You seem to struggle with that though (based on your replies on this site). Do you want me to give you some pointers?

          1. Yes you can tell me how you get to be so pious?

      2. @coldfly

        If I had to pick the closest teammate battles over the season, I’d have to say the top three are –
        1) Grosjean vs Magnussen
        2) Sainz vs Norris
        3) Raikkonen vs Giovinazzi

        Maybe Kimi could be ranked 3 to 4 spots higher than Gio, but there’s no way there could be more than one or two spots between GRO-MAG and SAI-NOR.

    2. I agree to be honest I rated both Haas drivers both poorly mainly becasue their relative performances fluctuated so much. A more complete driver could have at least matched the faster one. Not only that it is quite likely in many of the races at neither got the most out of what was a difficult car. Quite often one would start the race well and fade getting passed by the other. The only driver they impressed me more than was Latifi.

      1. Yes, it’s getting ridiculous, I don’t buy into the “both are terrible theory”, cause that’s what the car was, one can’t do miracles with such a car (check williams vs mercedes russel), but I just didn’t see much between the 2 haas drivers.

  3. It really is a testament to the relatively high level of the field of drivers that Kvyat, who had some really solid drives this year is only in the 3rd quart of them, below average.

    He did redeem himself somewhat this year I think, last year he seemed to be lost more often than not, this year he looked like he was building up again. But F1 is supposed to be the top level, not a learning and regrouping school.

    Maybe we need a level below F1 where drivers like him can regroup, where the likes of Kevin Magnussen (no, I really don’t know why Keith keeps putting him up higher in rankings than he deserves) can continue to have a toxic attitude to other drivers and where the likes of Stroll could have spent their first 2-3 years he now spent in F1. And where Giovannazi can keep the italian hopes up. And Kimi can have fun in his pre-retirement.

    But there is nothing really like that, Indycar is not that place. FE is not that place anymore either. And endurance racing isn’t – although many ex f1 drivers do find they can do a solid job in that for years.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      20th January 2021, 11:22

      We would need 20 teams and 40 cars, but the business developed never went that way.

    2. @bascb

      I agree. The level of driving was really high last year, probably better than ever before in F1. Even the pay drivers weren’t that bad.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        20th January 2021, 13:53

        I suppose the high levels of professionalism are now being reflected. Someone said that today the performance levels of guys like Norris and Perez are equal with Senna’s. Said like this seems outrageous, but the points is: every F1 driver knows that he must be a mix of Prost attention to details, Senna’s speed and Schumacher’s mad commitment to be successful.
        We won’t get no more Andreas de Cesaris crashing, telling the box the car broke up, and be able to proceed with their careers. We will hardly get more Mansell’s going straight from the golf course to the cockpit.
        Parallels can be drawn with football. No more Garrincha’s; only Messis and Ronaldos. Professionalism above everything else. (yet, we will listen that drivers of the past were better.)

  4. He got himself off the floor of being sacked and deserves immense credit for that, I’ve rarely seen a driver so publicly destroyed by his failure. What we were left with though, was a loss of his youthful exuberance, and maybe pace, with solid but lacklustre drives.

    As much as f1 is brutal, the man lasted 7 seasons and got 3 podiums. Aged 26 he must feel he has way more in him and he’ll likely be doing the rounds of FE/Le Mans/Indy like other sons of ex f1s and ex f1s. Just he was probably rather hoping that would be at 36 not 26

    1. Everything went too fast for Kvyat, but I admit he’s mentally a strong bloke. Not only in his work, but aswell his family duty (hey Max).

      Red Bull at the time wanted a new Vettel and they thought they’d find it with every next drivers. Kvyat, Ricciardo…

      Kvyat was propelled into F1 and qu’essuya wanted a GP.

      1. @jeff1s

        I think that he has a bit too much self-doubt for his own good. Like when he crashed after his tire blew this year and he immediately apologized and got angry at himself, even though he did nothing wrong.

        It seems better for pro-athletes to err on the other side and blame others too often for their own mistakes, rather than the opposite.

        1. @aapje I agree that successful athletes do tend to lack an element of self doubt and are quick to place the blame on others, but what happened at Silverstone initially to (i’m sure everyone, including himself) looked like he’d lost it on the curb.

          1. @bernasaurus

            Brundle figured it out right away, though. Kvyat also didn’t steer aggressively at all, nor was any part of his wheel beyond the curb.

            I just don’t think that a driver like Lewis or Max would jump to the conclusion that they messed up, unless they were quite sure they did. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’d blame others, but they’d wait with the self-blame until they got more information.

            Kvyat didn’t have this much self-doubt early in his career, like in the famous video where he was called a torpedo by Vettel.

        2. @aapje Yeah, I agree, I can’t imagine most other drivers instantly jumping into ‘i’m sorry, it was my fault’, and for whatever reason, when drivers do, it doesn’t look good (kind of sad that’s the case, an instinct to not say sorry is hardly a great trait in a human, but for whatever reason works well in sports).

          I can just sympathise with him for thinking initially it was his mistake, from the onboard it looks like he lost it all by himself.

          I agree that he wasn’t that way early in his career, the ‘torpedo’ move at China 16′ I think is actually a brilliant move, he held the line and did them fair and square, and when Seb says “If i turn in i’ll hit you”.

          “Well don’t turn in then”. He’s seemed a very different driver the last few years.

          1. Thats an issue in f1 but a well trodden one, young upstart put in his place by an established driver. Its up to the driver to keep taking it to the man and thru the prism of time that quote from Daniil to not turn in seems totally fair. At the time im sure there was plenty of comments here and everywhere that Danni was a liability, the new crashkid, Grosjeanski etc

          2. Was watching the same video recently thinking he’s got a lot of balls, just completely shrugged a 4x WDC off and gave him a pat on the back – rightly so, too.
            He doesn’t seem to be the same arrogant kid now, and I guess he needs to be.
            Pity eh

  5. A compatriot in me wants to point out that Monza win could have easily been his but for a few minutes of luck, as he was leading Gasly until he pitted just before the red flag.
    However, I agree with the ranking here… Average or just below if we take the year as a whole. I like to think it’s below his potential, but if you dont reach your potential after a few years in f1 then… when do you.

  6. Like Ocon, he was pretty invisible for a large portion of the season. Almost as if he wasn’t even in the races.

  7. There’s always a place elsewhere outside F1, Daniil.

  8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    20th January 2021, 15:39

    What a rollercoaster career for Dani. You gotta feel for him especially the lackluster farewell from Red Bull. Sure, they (Red Bull\Toro Rossi) have no obligation towards him but it was just a bit too cold. It’s never too late to do a proper farewell and perhaps give him something iconic for his efforts and truly outstanding professionalism. Maybe if anyone from Reb Bull reads this, they can suggest it to their bosses.

    There are a lot of positives when you look back and achieved what most cannot which is to race for F1, to win podiums, and to race for a top team.

  9. I think Kvyat was a solid, if not spectacular, driver. His highs, like Imola this year, Hockenheim last year, and China (in 2015?), were excellent, but a lot of the time otherwise he was a bit lukewarm. Overall I think he can be pleased with the highs in, and length of, his career. I agree with others though- he came in a bit early. Typical Red Bull product in a way.

    Was there really no Torro Rosso send-off? Surely there was something at the last race?

    1. @alloythere no, there was no send off from the team – if anything, they seem to have been more interested in talking about Tsunoda that weekend instead, with Kvyat being largely sidelined by the team.

  10. I think its about right for him this year given how soundly Gasly beat him.

    1. Not exactly Daniil outperformed Gasly at the end of the year once the car better fitted him.

    2. I thought Kvyat was beaten by Gasly in a similar manner that Ocon was beaten by Ricciardo and Vettel was beaten by Leclerc. Which is why I’m surprised that he’s ranked as high as #13. Hard to place him any higher than Giovinazzi this season.

  11. If Daniil Goes To Formula E Or Another Motorsport He Would Be #1.

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