Kvyat from hero to zero at home; Magnussen collects Sochi IIDOTR

rotr-banner-sochi-16With Max Verstappen peering over his shoulder from the Red Bull junior stable, Daniil Kvyat was in desperate need of a turnaround in form. Shanghai offered hope in that respect, picking up our Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race for his first podium of the year. Sochi completely destroyed that hope.

Kvyat suffered the ignominy of experiencing his worst weekend in Formula 1 in front of an expectant home crowd. Running into the same driver twice in two corners is embarrassing enough, but for that driver to be the same rival who had spent the majority of the previous race complaining about your racecraft to anyone that would listen, the mortification shot through the roof. Reject of the Race for Sochi is merely the cherry on top of the shambolic cake.

The initial coming together was nothing more than an overenthusiastic late lunge on Kvyat’s part, but the follow-up sucker punch was the by-product of an inexcusable lack of forethought. To assume the Ferrari would not at least be somewhat hobbled after such a forceful collision, and to continue on as if nothing had happened, was foolhardy on this part. The secondary contact would not – and should not – have happened, had Kvyat made the reasonable assumption Vettel’s car would be prone to a sudden loss of speed heading through the next corner. The secondary collision was unavoidable, thanks to Kvyat making poor assumptions and positioning his car incorrectly given events seconds earlier.

A long, long way behind Kvyat in second place for the ROTR award was Esteban Gutiérrez. He too made the cut thanks to barrelling into Turn 2, and claiming multiple victims in the process. Red Bull as a whole received a vote of disapproval, mostly for their perplexing tyre strategy which left their pair of drivers marooned at the wrong end of the field, without a real shot at making amends for their first lap woes. Luckily, the scores stopped being counted before Kvyat’s demotion to Scuderia Toro Rosso in favour of Verstappen, else they might have experienced a late surge in the polls for what has been a near universally decried decision.

Just missing out on a place on the reject podium was Emanuele Pirro, with several people irate at stewarding decisions which made Vladimir Putin and his government look comparatively laissez-faire. The final outsider candidate for the award was Turn 2 itself, some lamenting the design of the corner and the issues it has caused not just in F1, but also in GP2 in years past.

Full Reject of the Race results

rotr-results-sochi-16 N.B. Nominees with less than 10 points not included in results.

iidotr-banner-sochi-16Another immediate role reversal came courtesy of Renault. Coming off the back of a horrendous performance – one that only Jolyon Palmer’s individual performance (or lack thereof) stopped from earning them ROTR – Les Jaunes once again looked set for a Sunday of misery, following yet another double Q1 elimination.

For once though, Kevin Magnussen found himself dealt a favourable hand, one where his usual midfield opposition kindly removed themselves from the equation at the sharp end in the field. Esteban Gutiérrez may have been an ROTR contender from a neutral standpoint, but he was Renault’s saviour, opening a window of opportunity which the Dane snatched with both hands. A 7th place this early in the season for a team which has looked firmly rooted in the back three rows of the grid so far this season was easily enough to claim Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race.

The only other serious candidates for the award were Fernando Alonso and his McLaren-Honda team. Just up the road from Magnussen in sixth, the Spaniard finally demonstrated the oft-maligned McHonda has genuinely improved since last season’s horror show. Jenson Button making it a double points finish ensured it would be Woking’s best result since Hungary last year, where the pair finished a position higher apiece.

Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race Results

iidotr-results-sochi-16 N.B. Nominees with less than 10 points not included in results.