Yesterday probably marked the beginning of the end for Daniil Kvyat.
Toro Rosso’s decision to drop him for the highly thought of Pierre Gasly is the Russian’s second such demotion in 18 months, after his bumper cars episodes with Sebastian Vettel at the start of 2016 saw him swapped for Max Verstappen.
Put bluntly, it is something that he has not recovered from.
Where Romain Grosjean flourished after criticism of his driving up until the middle of 2013 to mature into a driver often ahead of his car, Kvyat has floundered and only shown flashes of his 2014 form.
While teammate Carlos Sainz has been a consistent fixture in the points, Kvyat is languishing in 19th in the World Drivers’ Championship with just four compared to ninth-placed Sainz’s 48. In a midfield-team, that gap is huge.
Franz Tost explained that the decision was taken as a result of him not fulfilling his potential this year, and it’s not difficult to see his point.
Indeed Kvyat, like last year, hasn’t been a stranger to first-lap collisions as his greediness on the brakes sent him into Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen, ending their races.
In the following race at the British Grand Prix, he and Sainz needlessly clashed on the opening lap in an incident that ended the Spaniard, who’s off to Renault for a year in 2018, retiring.
Perhaps it was cruel, if not deliberate, for Daniel Ricciardo to mention the nickname “Torpedo”, given to him by Vettel after the Chinese Grand Prix last year.
Where Red Bull were hammered for dropping him in 2016, this time around there will be far fewer public complaints.
Not that it would bother Dr. Helmut Marko, the man in charge of driver choices, in the slightest anyway.
Kvyat now finds himself at a crossroads.
Toro Rosso are fighting Williams for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship and are just seven points behind, and ten in front of Renault.
So the decision to demote him once again suggests that this time it is probably terminal, that he might have used his nine lives up at Red Bull.
How Kvyat reacts should he find himself with another chance at motorsport’s top table will determine his career path.
As for Gasly, a lot have tried and failed in going through the Red Bull Driver Academy. With Daniel Rcciardo’s contract up in 2019, he must prove that he’s no gamble.