F1 rookie Daniil Kvyat had several reasons to be frustrated after his German Grand Prix was cut short, not least the dramatic fire that threatened to consume his Toro Rosso STR9.
The Russian had again qualified inside the top ten after a spirited showing on a sweltering Saturday afternoon, but had to contend with another kind of heat as, after a fraught first half of the race, his car caught fire on lap 45 of 67. Prior to that, Kvyat had come off worst in a clash with Sergio Perez's Force India, dropping him down the order before tyre wear played a part in restricting his mid-race progress.
“My first stint was looking okay until the contact with Perez, which made me lose ground,” he admitted, “I also think I didn't look after my tyres well enough during the second stint, in which I tried to catch up and get back some positions, [but] it's a shame how my race ended today, especially because yesterday went very well.”
Replays show Kvyat's car cruising to a halt, its rear end already ablaze, as the Russian sought out a fire marshal point on the side of the Hockenheim track. Although the flames had taken hold, the rookie was eventually able to evacuate the cockpit, his frustration clear for everyone to see.
“The final stint was looking good in terms of pace, but I suddenly lost drive and I then saw smoke - and later flames - in the mirrors,” he reported, “I started to feel really hot in the car, so I parked it and jumped out as quickly as possible….
“It's not a nice situation to be in, but I'm now more concerned about the car than anything else. I hope everything will be okay as I switch my focus to Hungary, where I hope we can do better.”
With team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne qualifying and finishing outside the top ten, it was another pointless weekend for Toro Rosso, leaving team principal Franz Tost to contemplate another missed opportunity.
“Of course, for JEV to finish 13th is disappointing and, after Daniil's good P8 result in his qualifying session yesterday, we were expecting some points today,” he confirmed, “Daniil's race was compromised by the collision with Perez. We had to call him in to change the tyres, but the right hand side of his car was damaged which had a big impact on the aero-balance. From this moment onwards, he was no longer able to keep the pace and, unfortunately, could not finish the race because of a drivetrain failure, which we are still investigating.”
While Tost would only reveal that the team was looking at the reasons for Kvyat's untimely exit, Renault Sport's Ricardo Penteado at least anticipated one possible cause of the blaze, which came little more than 48 hours after the Renault-powered Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi kicked off the weekend with a similarly-dramatic inferno.
“Daniil was really unlucky to spin in the first part of the race and then to retire in such a dramatic way,” Penteado said, “The issue is still under investigation, but we believe it was an ignition problem that resulted in unburnt fuel igniting in the exhausts.”
Toro Rosso remains seventh in the constructors' standings, with 15 points after ten rounds, while Kvyat continues to trail team-mate Vergne by six points to nine entering the second half of the season.