Daniil Kvyat gives left-field choice for F1’s most underrated driver

Jamie Woodhouse
Alex Albon ahead of Williams colleague Logan Sargeant, Williams. Bahrain, March 2023.

Alex Albon ahead of his Williams team-mate Logan Sargeant. Bahrain, March 2023.

Admitting that opinions on Formula 1’s most underrated driving star will vary from person to person, Daniil Kvyat nonetheless went against the grain with his pick, who happens to be a former team-mate.

Kvyat’s Formula 1 career was certainly a story of ups and down across his stints within the Red Bull fold, which saw him appear for Toro Rosso and the main Red Bull squad.

And it was ahead of the 2019 campaign that Kvyat received a recall to the programme and was sent to Toro Rosso, his team-mate for that season being Alex Albon who, having formerly served as a Red Bull junior, had also made a return to the fold.

Ultimately the pair would only spend half of the season together before Albon received a promotion to the Red Bull line-up, and though his stint with the team ended when the 2020 campaign did, he returned to the grid in 2022 with Williams after a season on the sidelines as Red Bull reserve driver.

Albon has since rebuilt his career with the Williams squad who are on a similar recovery mission, earning a multi-year contract extension for 2023 and beyond.

And Albon is the driver who Kvyat chose when he was asked to name Formula 1’s most underrated racer in his view, while appearing on the Track Limits podcast.

“Some of them I already didn’t race against, but I’ll say maybe Alex Albon is getting back at it again, so maybe him,” Kvyat stated.

“His car is probably not the best at the moment, but I think he’s been good, I think with a good chance, maybe he could have a better career.

“So I would say probably him, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. Everyone else is probably judging it their way.”

And could it be an attitude change which has put Albon’s Formula 1 career back on an upward trajectory?

That is a suggestion made by Kvyat, who says that while Albon was the “most easy-going guy” when they were team-mates, in Formula 1 a driver must also be “a bit cocky” to succeed.

“Albon was like the most easy-going guy, a very easy-going personality,” Kvyat revealed, “he’s a strong driver for sure, but also an easy-going personality.

“Maybe he’s a bit less so easy-going now because maybe it was too much at the time, and in F1 you have to be a bit cocky.”

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While Albon has become quite the specialist at picking up the scraps of the points-paying positions with Williams, their speed in a straight-line making him a strong leader of a ‘DRS train’, we still wait to see what Albon could do if he was no longer living the underdog story.

The last time that happened was in that ultimately unsuccessful Red Bull stint, but while this spell with Williams has clearly rebuilt Albon’s confidence and is allowing him to shine as team leader, it was in Australia where Albon sparked some fresh doubt over his ability to deliver near the front.

Having qualified in the lofty heights of P8, Albon was running as high as P6 before he binned the Williams into the wall, and considering the barmy occurrences in that race from then on, it was a huge opportunity missed.

Is Albon F1’s most underrated driver? Perhaps, considering the likes of George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are all regularly lauded for their talents and title-winning potential, while Albon is often left out of such chatter, but it feels like we need to see him in a consistent top-10 car again to determine if he really has become the real deal.