End of the line for Daniil Kvyat?

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

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    Daniil Kvyat has once again been dropped by Red Bull. (AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA)

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    For the second time in as many months, and the third since early 2017, Daniil Kvyat has found himself relegated by Red Bull, a move that further points towards a definitive divorce of driver from team.

    Dropped by Toro Rosso for last month’s Malaysian Grand Prix in favour of Pierre Gasly, the Russian was recalled for the United States Grand Prix last weekend while Gasly pursued a Super Formula title in Japan.

    Tenth place on return was an admirable effort, though Kvyat has again been torpedoed for this weekend’s event at Mexico, with the man he partnered at Austin, debutant Brendon Hartley, retaining his seat, while Gasly resumes his duties.

    The 23-year old faces an uncertain future as Toro Rosso – set to field its fourth combination this season, and now without either driver it commenced the season with – appears eager to evaluate Gasly and Hartley at the final races, the Frenchman at least certain to secure a berth for next season.

    If it proves that Austin was Kvyat’s final outing for 2017, with little speculation tying him to a ride elsewhere next year, it’s would be appropriate to reflect on the termination of a once promising career for an individual who was the victim of circumstance.

    His retrenchment from the senior Red Bull outfit following last season’s Russian Grand Prix will forever be the seminal moment that fans remember Daniil Kvyat for. There were two different drivers: the Kvyat of pre-Russia 2016, and the one that came after, the latter a shadow of its former self.

    Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat

    (AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA)

    A second consecutive non-start at Australia, followed by a seventh place at Bahrain and third at China, opened his account in reasonable fashion. But a clumsy collision at Russia precipitated the decision to replace Kvyat with Max Verstappen with immediate effect.

    The Russian was told by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel that “you are like a torpedo” following a first corner near collision at Shanghai. It was his accident on home soil, however, that eliminated the German and legitimised the calamitous outcome, at least in Red Bull’s opportunistic eyes.

    That Verstappen claimed victory on his Red Bull debut at Spain, and in doing so became the youngest race winner – another piece of creative license on behalf of the energy drinks company – did little to dispel the notion that Kvyat had been had to appease the Verstappen camp’s demands.

    While the Dutchman continues to vindicate the switch, Kvyat subsequently registered just a further four points that season. Subsequently, in his 32 starts after the demotion, he registered a paltry nine, with a trio of ninth places his greatest haul since the fateful podium at China.

    It’d be remiss not to run the rule over the Russian’s achievements prior to his figurative crucifixion, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that he remains Formula One’s youngest point scorer on debut, having claimed ninth at Australia in 2014.

    Thrust prematurely into the main game with Red Bull following Vettel’s departure to the Prancing Horse for 2015, his arrival coincided with the Milton Keynes outfit’s downturn in form. Nevertheless, he outscored his esteemed teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, with a career best second place at Hungary.

    Thus the irony of being ousted before his time had come isn’t lost to sceptics of the Red Bull programme, and the subdued Kvyat which has been on display since this moment is of little surprise. It’s a ruthless business though, and the Russian’s inability to move on cannot be endured forever. If it therefore comes to pass that Formula One has seen the last of him, he’ll not be the first one that got away.