Nice guys finish last. It may be a cliche, but in Formula 1 it rings true; you’re not going to get to the top without stepping on a few toes.
Daniil Kvyat felt the wrath of Sebastian Vettel following Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, with the Ferrari driver accusing the Russian of forcing him into Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner, with Vettel moving wide as Kvyat looked to make a move down the inside.
There is no doubting that Vettel knew his team would be less than impressed that their two cars – who had started on the second row of the grid – had come together so early in the race, let alone at all, and so from the outset Vettel looked to paint Kvyat as the villain (or in this case “mad man”) of the piece.
The pair’s exchange prior to the podium presentation, with Vettel having finished second and Kvyat third, made for interesting viewing.
Kvyat: What happened at the start?
Vettel: You – asking what happened at the start?! If I don’t go left, you crash into us and we all three go out – you are like a torpedo.
Kvyat: That’s racing (laughs). We didn’t crash
Vettel: Not racing If I keep going the same line, we crash.
Kvyat: Don’t keep going that line.
Vettel: But there was a car on the left also, that’s why I hit the other car.
Kvyat: I can’t see all three cars, come on, I only have two eyes, I see two cars
Vettel: You’re going to crash if you do things like that.
Kvyat: But we didn’t.
Vettel: It’s racing, but you need to expect when you attack like a crazy that you damage your car. You were lucky this time. I had damage and Kimi had damage.
Kvyat: But I’m on the podium, you’re on the podium, it’s okay
Raikkonen is likely to differ with Kvyat on that last point. However, that the stewards took no action suggests it was nothing more than a racing incident.
It made for enthralling viewing – both on the track and off it, and it also told us a lot about Kvyat.
Kvyat’s third-place finish was his second podium finish since making his F1 debut at the start of last year, and despite showing significant promise, he’s already under pressure at Red Bull.
Max Verstappen is touted as a star of the future (and he certainly has the attitude of one), and with Daniel Ricciardo more secure at Red Bull, Kvyat’s spot is on the line. If he wants to stay with the Austrian team, he will need to produce results, and he may need to tread on a few toes to get them.
All great champions, from Senna to Schumacher to Vettel himself have had that selfish streak that has seen them take risks potentially at the expense of others. Sometimes those gambles pay off like they did for Kvyat on Sunday, sometimes they won’t. The important thing for the 21-year-old is that he won’t be staying at Red Bull for long if he doesn’t roll the dice.
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