Tag Archives: Russian Grand Prix

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Results & aftermath

Mercedes’ Bottas holds off Ferrari’s Vettel for maiden F1 win; Raikkonen P3 for the Prancing Horse; Hamilton off the podium in P4

Valtteri Bottas drove a nearly flawless race to score his first-ever Formula 1 win at the Russain Grand Prix on Sunday. Always highly regarded in his years at Williams, the 27-year-old Finn is finally piloting a win-worthy ride with his unexpected elevation to a factory Mercedes drive after outgoing champion Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement at the end of last season. After showing promising pace in the first three rounds of 2017, Bottas put his excellent new equipment to best use at the Sochi Autodrom to claim his maiden F1 victory after 81 races, a great moment for any driver in the sport. Despite Ferrari’s first front row lockout since 2008 Bottas got the jump on the two Prancing Horses of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as the lights went out, surging from his P3 grid position up through the Ferraris to take the race lead with a fine outbreaking maneuver going into Turn 2. Proving once again that a strong start into clean air is worth its weight in gold in an F1 tilt, Bottas quickly stretched the lead over his two blood red pursuers, as well as his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who remained mired in fourth with mysterious overheating issues.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Despite an early Safety Car due to a collision between the Haas of Romain Grosjean and the Renault of Jolyon Palmer that bunched up the field before one full lap had even been run Bottas sprinted away again when the track went green three laps later, proving that his Silver Arrow had the legs for any and all comers on this day. Vettel’s race engineers gambled on running a longer first stint than Bottas on the Ultra Soft Pirelli tire compound so that his Super Soft set would be fresher at the death of the race. As the laps wound down it looked like the bet might pay off for the Scuderia, with Vettel carving large chunks of time off the anxious Finn so desperate to see the checkered flag. But Bottas mastered his nerves and ran near-perfect laps under that considerable pressure from the 4-time World Champion just behind him. He also took advantage of slower traffic by not only picking them off quickly but also by deploying his DRS when close to the non-contenders to negate Vettel’s own use of the open wing. Bottas came home .6 seconds to the good and after so much promise he will forever finally be known as a Formula 1 race winner. Now the question remains if he can build on this career-defining victory and truly challenge Hamilton for supremacy within the Mercedes team and perhaps even the World Championship.

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Despite their obvious improvement Ferrari must still have been somewhat disappointed at not getting the race victory after qualifying 1-2. But Vettel and Raikkonen did earn valuable points with their respective P2 and P3 podium finishes. Vettel now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 13 points over Lewis Hamilton after four rounds and Ferrari are only one point behind mighty Mercedes in the Constructors’ points. If Raikkonen can find a way to raise his game and take the fight to his teammate Vettel we could even be in for a crazy 4-driver slam bang shootout for the title. Certainly Mercedes and Ferrari have shown themselves to be the class of the manufacturers’ field this season and the battle between the two elite automotive giants now appears to be so close that it could well go down to the final race to decide 2017’s ultimate victor.

Bottas’ Mercedes teammate Hamilton was left wondering how his weekend in Russa went so wrong. Continue reading

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Qualifying results

Ferrari locks out front row at Sochi with Vettel taking pole, Kimi P2; Mercedes on the back foot in quali with Bottas besting Hamilton, P3 to P4

If there were still doubts about Ferrari’s surprisingly strong start to the 2017 season after three strong rounds for the fabled Scuderia they were laid to rest during Saturday qualifying in Sochi, Russia when the two Prancing Horses locked out the front row for an F1 race for the first time since 2008. Sebastian Vettel put in a storming lap with time running out in Q3 to pip his teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the pole by less than half a second. The excellent pace of the two Ferraris knocked both Mercedes Silver Arrows off the front row, an usual sight in the new turbo era to say the least. Even more unusual, Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton was pushed out of the top 3, out-qualified by his new teammate Valtteri Bottas for the second week in a row. Hamilton finds himself starting from fourth position on the grid aside Bottas’ superior P3. Obviously come race day the getaway from the line will be paramount for this contending quartet. But Ferrari have clearly shown that they have an advantage in getting maximum performance out of the new generation of extra wide Pirelli rubber, which has enabled them to seriously challenge Mercedes’ formerly unquestioned dominance. And in Vettel they have a driver with the supreme talent to wring the utmost out of this excellent and much improved new SF70H chassis and compete with a superstar like Hamilton on even terms for victories.

Further back on the grid, Daniel Ricciardo did very well to bank a lap good enough for P5 after the Red Bulls had struggled to find outright pace on the very low abrasion Sochi Autodorm circuit. The veteran Aussie’s time was signifcantly better than his wunderkind teammate Max Verstappen’s, who could do no better than P7. Splitting the Red Bull duo was the Williams of Felipe Massa, who qualified P6 and showed that perhaps the Williams is finally beginning to find some consistent speed after an underwhelming beginning to the season. But rookie teammate Lance Stroll could do no better than P12 and Team Williams will need more from their young Canadian driver if they are to start banking those ever-valuable Constructors’ points on a regular basis. Nico Hulkenberg was excellent once again, pulling his factory Renault within shouting distance of the contenders in P8, his third Top 10 qualifying effort in a row. And overachieving Force India also performed well, with Sergio Perez taking P9 and the impressive young Frenchman Esteban Ocon quick enough for P10.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Russian GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:34.493 1:34.038 1:33.194 20
2 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:34.953 1:33.663 1:33.253 18
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:34.041 1:33.264 1:33.289 18
4 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:34.409 1:33.760 1:33.767 19
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:35.560 1:35.483 1:34.905 20
6 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.828 1:35.049 1:35.110 20
7 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:35.301 1:35.221 1:35.161 18
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:35.507 1:35.328 1:35.285 21
9 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:36.185 1:35.513 1:35.337 18
10 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:35.372 1:35.729 1:35.430 20

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live starting a 8 AM Eastern on NBC Sports here in the states. Can Ferrari follow up their impressive qualifying with a matching 1-2 when it really counts or will Mercedes find the race pace to deny the Scuderia that fervent wish? Hope to see you then to find out!

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Results & aftermath

Rosberg reigns supreme in Russia to continue undefeated 2016 start; Hamilton battles back for 2nd; Raikkonen salvages 3rd for Ferrari after Vettel knocked out in first-lap crash

Nico Rosberg continued a flawless start to his 2016 Formula 1 season with his fourth consecutive victory in four races. The Mercedes driver and championship points leader started from pole in Russia and sped away as the lights went out, never to be touched by the chaos that unfolded behind him. No one could challenge his lead the rest of the race and he solidified his status as this year’s driver to beat. Not coincidental to the supremely confident start to his season, Rosberg’s win in Sochi was his seventh victory overall dating to last season, making him only the fourth driver in F1 history to achieve such a feat. The German contender, who is seeking his first-ever Drivers’ title, now has a daunting 43-point lead over his closest pursuer, teammate and archival Lewis Hamilton.

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

But Hamilton managed a gritty drive of his own after engine troubles in qualifying relegated him to P10 on the starting grid. The current consecutive World Champ clawed his way through the field, exhibiting just enough patience to leaven his usual aggression and fight toward the front, finishing and impressive P2. Again, however, there were some problems with Hamilton’s engine even amidst his impressive comeback run and he was forced to back off his pursuit of Rosberg with a water pressure issue. If Hamilton can get any luck going his way it’s clear that he is still a match for anyone on track, including his teammate. But with as well as Rosberg is driving and how fortune seems to have turned its favor upon him, Hamilton needs for his team to quickly bulletproof his Silver Arrow if he is to pose any real threat going forward and contend for victories on even footing.

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Ferrari had yet another frustrating, topsy-turvy day. Their ace, Sebastian Vettel, who qualified P2, received a 5-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change, meaning he had to start back in P7. And being pushed into the midfield cost Vettel dearly when the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat punted his Ferrari from behind not once but twice as they made their way through the opening corners. Continue reading

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Qualifying results

Mercedes yin-yang: Rosberg’s charmed start continues with pole while Hamilton again hobbled by engine trouble; Ferrari’s Vettel qualifies P2 but dropped down 5-spots due to gearbox change; Williams’ Bottas impresses with speedy P3

The luck that seemed to cover Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton like a cloak on his way to two consecutive championships seems to have transferred entirely to his teammate and arch-rival Nico Rosberg in 2016. Thus far, Rosberg has had the charmed season with three straight victories to open his campaign, while Hamilton has been plagued by mechanical gremlins that have cost him valuable points. That dynamic continued in Saturday qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix from the gorgeous seaside Sochi Autodrom, with Rosberg grabbing pole by a large margin over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton having deja vu all over again with the same power plant problem that doomed him at the last race in China. In this case the issue arose after Hamilton had made it into Q3 so he will provisionally start from P10 on the grid. However, it remains to be seen if he will incur any additional engine change penalties that will push him further back (he was reprimanded for cutting a bollard in qualifying but received no further punishment for that). Either way, it will have to be another race of slicing and dicing for the reigning world champ, which he did beautifully in China to salvage a P7 finish after starting from dead last. Sochi, however, is not as optimal a passing track as Shanghai and also sees much less tire deg so don’t expect another crazy 5-stopper. Though Hamilton will surely give his best effort to claw his way to the front, it’s Rosberg who is clearly sitting in the catbird seat for Sunday.

Definitely facing a 5-spot penalty for changing a gearbox before quali, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified P2 but will start from P7. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen posted the 4th fastest time and will start P3 after Vettel’s demotion and everyone above the German Ferrari driver also moves up a spot. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas had the team’s best qualifying effort this season after downforce upgrades on the car with a solid P3, so he’ll start P2, while his teammate Felipe Massa managed the 5th fastest lap and will start P4. Daniel Ricciardo of team Red Bull was quick enough for P6 and will start from 5th on the grid and Force India’s Sergio Perez was able to put in an excellent flyer for P7 and will start from 6th. That split the Red Bulls and leaves Russian-born Daniil Kvyat starting in P8 behind Vettel at his home Grand Prix. Rounding out the Top 10, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen starts from P9.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Russian Grand Prix:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:36.119 1:35.337 1:35.417 16
2 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL*  FERRARI 1:36.555 1:36.623 1:36.123 16
3 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:37.746 1:37.140 1:36.536 17
4 7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN  FERRARI 1:36.976 1:36.741 1:36.663 17
5 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:37.753 1:37.230 1:37.016 16
6 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:38.091 1:37.569 1:37.125 22
7 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:38.006 1:37.282 1:37.212 20
8 26 DANIIL KVYAT  RED BULL RACING 1:38.265 1:37.606 1:37.459 22
9 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:38.123 1:37.510 1:37.583 20
10 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:36.006 1:35.820 13

*Vettel will start P7 after 5-spot grid penalty for gearbox change.

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC Sports at the civilized hour of 8AM Eastern. Should make for some very entertaining and picturesque Sunday breakfast viewing.

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Results & aftermath

Hamilton surges to victory at Sochi while Rosberg DNFs — Mercedes secure Championship; Vettel P2 for Ferrari; Perez grabs miracle podium after Raikonnen takes out Bottas on final lap

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

In an action-packed Russian Grand Prix where unpredictability seemed the only sure thing, the one near-certainty of 2015 managed to come through yet again: a Lewis Hamilton win for the Mercedes factory team. After being out-qualified for the pole by his teammate and archival Nico Rosberg, everything broke the Englishman’s way on race day just as it has in 9 out of the 15 contests so far. Rosberg’s promising start proved illusory when it was doomed by terminal throttle problems that forced him to drop out on Lap 8. With only four more races remaining in the season, Rosberg, who had performed flawlessly all weekend, actually saw himself dropped to third in the Drivers’ points by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by day’s end. Hamilton, who proved effortlessly untouchable in the race and won by nearly 6 seconds, now leads Vettel by a commanding 66 points and Rosberg by 73. And after this dominant performance in Russia, a race he has now won for the first two years of its existence, Hamilton also seems assured of winning his second consecutive championship, further burnishing his status as one the all-time greats of the sport.

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Vettel started from fourth on the grid but inherited third when Rosberg dropped out. He was then able to jump the Williams of Valtteri Bottas for P2 after a sterling Ferrari pit stop on Lap 30. The wily German never looked back and while he didn’t have anything for Hamilton, the former 4-time World Champ secured another solid 2nd place finish in his impressive debut year with the Scuderia. Things did not go as well for Vettel’s Ferrari teammate, Kimi Raikonnen. Continue reading

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Russia — Qualifying results

Rosberg pips Hamilton for Pole at Sochi as Mercedes record another front row lockout; Bottas a speedy P3 in the Williams machine

With the season down to its last five races and Nico Rosberg’s Championship hopes slipping away, the German Mercedes driver put the bit between his teeth and out-qualified his teammate Lewis Hamilton for pole position in Russia. After poor weather and on track incidents interrupted all three practices leading up to Saturday Qualifying, Rosberg showed no ill effects from his limited track time on the still-new Sochi circuit and essentially ran perfect laps in all three sessions, coming out ahead of Hamilton by just .3 seconds. The current Championship points leader had to settle for P2 on the grid and will be hoping for a repeat of the same starting woes that foiled Rosberg two weeks ago at Suzuka in Japan or at least to jump him when the lights go out. One thing is for certain: even though Rosberg needs the win far more than Hamilton, the hyper-competitive Englishman can practically taste his second consecutive world title and will do everything possible in Sunday’s race to deny his teammate and only true challenger the victory. The opening lap should be epic.

Williams had a decidedly mixed day, with Valtteri Bottas providing the glass-half-full of it by saving his best lap for the tail end of Q3, besting the times of both Ferraris and taking P3 on the grid. The young Finnish phenom looked truly hooked up on the tricky Russian track and if anyone can spoil the Mercedes party tomorrow it could be him, particularly if the two Silver Arrows manage to take each other out. On the downside for Williams, veteran Felipe Massa could not get a clean lap away from traffic in Q2 and failed to make into the last round. The Brazillian will have to start from way back in 12th on the grid, making it more likely he could have another incident that leads to a poor finish for the third GP in a row. Massa DNF’ed after contact with Nico Hulkenberg in Singapore and struggled to a 17th place finish in Japan after early contact with Daniel Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel out-qualified Kimi Raikkonen in their two Ferraris, P4 to P5, and both will surely press hard to overtake Bottas, particularly if the rainy conditions that prevailed on Friday return on race day. Force India had a very promising effort, with Hulkenberg coming home 6th fastest and Sergio Perez P7. Romain Grosjean took P8 and the Frenchman is now confirmed to be leaving the uncertainty of beleaguered Lotus to become lead driver for the debut of new American team Haas F1 next year. Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, who only just got his road car license the other week when he turned 18, made it up to P9 and veteran Daniel Ricciardo was P10 for the senior Red Bull team.

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Verstappen’s nearly-as-young teammate Carlos Sainz was involved in a very nasty shunt during Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning when a brake issue on his Toro Rosso caused him to lose control. He then bashed into the wall at Turn 13, breaking his front left suspension, and was a passenger as he went hurtling off into the barriers at a high rate of speed. The 21-year-old Spaniard was buried deep in the Tecpro blocks but gave the thumbs up sign while being stretchered away. Initial reports from the hospital indicated no serious injuries to Sainz, although he will remain there overnight for observation. It is unclear whether he or the car will be able to make the start tomorrow.

Top 10 Qualifiers for the Russian GP:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM TIME LAPS
1 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:37.113 20
2 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:37.433 18
3 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:37.912 26
4 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:37.965 15
5 7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN  FERRARI 1:38.348 18
6 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:38.659 21
7 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:38.691 19
8 8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN  LOTUS 1:38.787 19
9 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:38.924 23
10 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:39.728 18

Complete Qualifying results available at Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBCSN at 7AM Eastern here in the States. Look for some early fireworks as Hamilton tries to reassert his dominance over Rosberg in a hurry. If there’s one quality the great English champion lacks, it’s patience. Hope to see you then!