Red Bull youngster Daniil Kvyat jumped teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the points standings yesterday, following a gutsy drive to 4th.
The Russian made a late race charge to collect twelve valuable points to bring him six clear of Ricciardo, leaving him a credible 7th in the World Championship as the Formula One circus prepares to move to Monza.
From 12th on the grid, Kvyat has taken four positions by the time the stops began in earnest of lap eight, including moves on Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) and Felipe Massa (Williams), with the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas dropping behind after a pit mishap.
Thereafter Kvyat ran at a keen pace, as he initially chased Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and later Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and climbed to 5th, when Red Bull opted to bring the Russian in for his final set of tyres on lap 27.
Prior to that, Kvyat’s strategy seemed to be something of an off-kilter manoeuvre by Red Bull. At the end of lap 20, Ricciardo’s Red Bull machine suffered an instant power loss at the exit of the Bus Stop chicane, prompting a Virtual Safety Car; however unlike several others in the field, the Milton Keynes squad order Kvyat to stay out, allowing the 21-year-old to make the most of his Pirelli tyres.
And he did so. From the beginning of his second stint, Kvyat settled into a consistent pace in the 1’56s range and only stepped out of that consistent range when the Virtual Safety Car was in place. “The strategy from the team to keep me out during the virtual safety car was good and we were able to have a strong last stint,” he commented.
It proved to be one of the strongest stints of the entire Grand Prix, with Kvyat maintaining an impressive pace that kept him at the top end of the laptimes throughout the run.
Emerging from his second stop in 9th, Kvyat claimed one place when Max Verstappen’s strategy took him out of contention; however it was here that the Red Bull man showed his teeth with cool overtakes on Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari, lap 37), Massa (lap 40) and Sergio Perez (Force India, lap 41). Speaking of his positions gained late in the race, the former GP3 Series champion commented, “I had a lot of overtaking opportunities and the car performed well.”
With two laps remaining, 5th became 4th when the one-stopping Vettel suffered a right rear tyre failure at the tip of Radillon, ending the German’s run with only short distance remaining. “It was a very interesting race and really good fun,” said a delighted Kvyat, then adding, “The team did a good job and we scored some solid points. We should be happy with the performance today and hopefully we can continue this form over the next few races.”
It was a performance that did not go unnoticed by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. “Dany drove a very strong race to finish fourth from his starting grid position of twelfth. He produced some very strong overtaking manoeuvres and the strategy worked very well, so we were able to score some very useful points.”
Following a great start where he jumped from 5th to 3rd, Ricciardo’s day was seemingly smooth, before going south toward the halfway mark. The Australian was running a similar strategy to Kvyat, which – considering his early race performance – could well have secured him 3rd, although a tricky time on the medium compound Pirelli’s saw Ricciardo lose some time before retiring.
Kvyat remains some 22 scores adrift of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, despite the Finn enduring a difficult weekend at the office.