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Inside Line: Has time run out on Kvyat’s F1 career?

It hasn’t been a good week for Daniil Kvyat… or month… or year, really.

Crashing out for the second race in a row at Silverstone, Kvyat finds himself once more wading through the familiar waters of controversy, with speculation ramping up that he won’t see out the season.

Certainly, it can’t have helped his case when he placed the blame on teammate Carlos Sainz for their incident on Sunday, despite the Spaniard clearly being the victim of his error. Instead of helping his cause, all he succeeded in doing was making it look more desperate.

With nine penalty points to his name, Kvyat is now just three points away from a race ban and presumably, the end of his Red Bull career – all of which begs the question: does he still belong in F1?

Simply from a disciplinary standpoint, the answer is no. Kvyat’s nine current penalty points lead all drivers, while he holds both the single-season (8 in 2016, equal with Max Verstappen in 2015) and career (16) records since the points system was introduced in 2014.

What makes this particularly troubling is not necessarily the number of points, but the way in which they’ve been consistently accrued. No, he’s not the first to gain a reputation as a troublemaker, but the fact that he’s still making these errors in the fourth year of his F1 career makes it seem like he can’t learn his lesson, and that moves him from Romain Grosjean-territory to the dreaded Pastor Maldonado realm of notorious drivers.

Add to that his war of words with Sainz, his outburst at the stewards in Canada, and the on-track reputation he’s earned with prominent drivers, and it seems like he’s fast running out of friends. It doesn’t help either that his performances since coming back to Toro Rosso have merely been so-so, with Sainz leading their head-to-head 18-13 in qualy, and 13-6 in races.

Sure, he’s just 23 years old, but it’s not like he can stay at Toro Rosso forever. At the end of the day, the Toro Rosso programme is there to develop drivers for the senior team, and even if Max Verstappen leaves for Ferrari, Sainz leaves for Renault, and Daniel Ricciardo leaves to develop his own brand of boot-shaped drinking utensils, would Kvyat be assured of a Red Bull drive? It’s a legitimate question, and one you could reasonably answer in the negative.

If anything is keeping him in the team, it seems to be as a measuring-stick for Sainz, but with a decent sample-size crowning the Spaniard the “victor” it’s fair to suggest that experiment has run its course. Also it doesn’t help that Red Bull has another hot prospect who needs a seat, in the form of 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly.

There’s no denying Kvyat is fast, but he wouldn’t be the first legitimately quick driver that Helmut Marko jettisoned. Sebastien Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Antonio Felix da Costa (who didn’t even make F1 after being beat-out by Sainz), hell, even Sebastien Bourdais are exceptionally talented racers, but didn’t make the cut. How Kvyat still makes it with all his problems on the side just seems an incredibly unlikely proposition.

That said you have to feel for him, recent tribulations aside. He was put in an almost impossible position from the moment the aforementioned Verstappen replaced him in 2015 at Toro Rosso, as the only way he could hold onto his seat long-term was if he unseated a driver in Ricciardo who just trounced a quadruple world champion, or if Verstappen didn’t turn into a superstar.

Those were always extremely long odds, and combined with the immense psychological pressure, it’s understandable he’s been in a free-fall ever since. Nevertheless, it’s a harsh reality of all professional sportspeople that their careers live on borrowed time. Sooner or later the bell tolls for all – unfortunately for Kvyat, it looks more like the former than the latter.

Kvyat Formula 1 career stats:

Entries69 (67 starts)
Podiums2
Career points132
Pole positions0
Fastest laps1
First entry2014 Australian Grand Prix

Big Question: Does Daniil deserve another year in F1?