Race Report: Russian GP- Rosberg remains unbeaten

The Russian Grand Prix may not have gone the way Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel wanted it but there’s little doubt that winning seven races in a row is exactly how Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg wanted it. The German claimed his 4th win of the season, 7th win in a row which places him in rare air with the likes of Ascari, Schumacher and Vettel on the seven-in-a-row list.

The days started rather bleak for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who was hit twice from behind by a charging and perhaps over exuberant Russian, Daniil Kvyat, in his home grand prix at turn 2 and 3. This ended Vettel’s race with a flurry of F-bombs on his radio back to the team.

It was a race that saw a “helpless” Hamilton recover from a 10th place grid starting position to second while nursing a water pressure issue in the closing laps of the race. It also recorded McLaren’s first dual points finish of the season with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button proving their championship-winning qualities with terrific drives and passes to finish 6th and 10th respectively.

WinWin

A big win for Nico Rosberg for seriously putting his foot down on the neck of the 2016 Formula 1 season as he leads with 100 points to Lewis Hamilton’s 57 in the driver’s championship. For Lewis, you would have to be cruel not to suggest his recovery driver was truly inspired if not aided by Vettel’s DNF but even if Vettel would have stayed in the race and finished second, Hamilton would still be on the podium from 10th. That’s a champion’s driver for sure and a huge win for the team as they re-purposed the Melbourne engine in Lewis’s car in order to prevent a grid penalty so he could start in 10th place as they flew in parts overnight to make the needed changes.

A win for Kimi Raikkonen to move into third in the driver’s championship with his podium finish and he gave Ferrari their 700th podium finish in their venerable F1 career. Ferrari managed, also, to kepp Williams behind them by passing Valtteri Bottas and staving off a threat from the Grove-based team. Also a win for Kimi as he seemed to be the driver most affable and engaged—which isn’t something we normally ascribe to Kimi—with Vladimir Putin in the cool down room as the other drivers seemed indifferent to his presence there with Bernie Ecclestone and Nico seemed downright dismissive of the Russian president.

A win for both Romain Grosjean at Haas F1 and Sergio Perez with the latter having a terrific weekend on balance that included a wonderful qualifying session and the former finding the balance in the car’s performance after a difficult Chinese Grand Prix signaling a good recovery by Haas F1. The finished 8th and 9th respectively. Perez even had to recover from a flat tire incurred at turn one on lap one.

A win for Fernando Alonso and McLaren for a 6th place finish with Button in 10th and also to Renault Sport F1’s Kevin Magnussen for grabbing his car by the scruff of the neck and forcing it to put on a show, give it some legs and finishing in the points in 7th place.

Once could argue that Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa’s 4th and 5th place finishes were a win as the team had struggled with the wrong tire compound strategy in China and seemed to find their forma gain in Russia although there was that late-race pit stop for Massa that was called but had no impact on his results.

FailFail

A fail for Haas F1’s Esteban Gutierrez who clouted Nico Hulkenberg at turn one garnering a drive-through penalty for the Mexican and the end of the race for the German.

A fail for Felipe Nasr who, in a brand new chassis, finished behind his teammate Marcus Ericsson and for Jolyon Palmer who couldn’t match the pace of his teammate Magnussen finishing 13th. While Ericsson suffered a bad qualifying session and didn’t get a new chassis, he managed to beat his teammate and finished 14th.

A fail for Toro Rosso who experienced an engine problem with Max Verstappen and his retirement certainly benefitted Fernando Alonso while his teammate, Jenson Button had to fight Carlos Sainz for the 10th position. Sainz struggled to hang on to 10th place and at the time of writing this, it is unclear if he had some trouble with the car or if Button legitimately pressed into an error. Regardless, both STR’s out of the points is not a good weekend for the team.

WTHWTH

I suppose Red Bull could be given a WTH as the team, having qualified well, fell apart after Daniil Kvyat hit Sebastian Vettel twice and took him out of the race. This prompted a Safety Car period in which both cars dove in to the pits and fitted the hardest compound on offer—the Medium—and then struggle as they sank like a stone to the back of the grid.

Team boss Christian Horner said that Kvyat’s incident screwed the teams race completely as both cars had damage on them and front wings that were toast. If there was a time that Kvyat didn’t need this incident, this weekend was it. If there was a reason to find room in 2017 for Verstappen, there’s little doubt that this incident will be a large catalyst in making that decision. It’s unfortunate because he truly has become quite a driver and determined to win.

There’s no excuse for Kvyat’s actions this weekend but then several drivers on this grid could have the same finger pointed at them including Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Perez, Hulkenberg and many others.

RUSSIAN GP RESULTS:

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h32m41.997s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25.022s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 31.998s
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 50.217s
5 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m14.427s
6 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
7 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1 Lap
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
9 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
10 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
11 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/TAG Heuer 1 Lap
12 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1 Lap
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
15 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/TAG Heuer 1 Lap
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
17 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
18 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 2 Laps
Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Ferrari Retirement
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Collision
Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes Collision
Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes Collision

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Pos Driver Points
1 Nico Rosberg 100
2 Lewis Hamilton 57
3 Kimi Raikkonen 43
4 Daniel Ricciardo 36
5 Sebastian Vettel 33
6 Felipe Massa 32
7 Romain Grosjean 22
8 Daniil Kvyat 21
9 Valtteri Bottas 19
10 Max Verstappen 13
11 Fernando Alonso 8
12 Kevin Magnussen 6
13 Nico Hulkenberg 6
14 Carlos Sainz 4
15 Sergio Perez 2
16 Jenson Button 1
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
18 Jolyon Palmer 0
19 Marcus Ericsson 0
20 Pascal Wehrlein 0
21 Felipe Nasr 0
22 Esteban Gutierrez 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 157
2 Ferrari 76
3 Red Bull/TAG Heuer 57
4 Williams/Mercedes 51
5 Haas/Ferrari 22
6 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 17
7 McLaren/Honda 10
8 Force India/Mercedes 8
9 Renault 6
10 Sauber/Ferrari 0
11 Manor/Mercedes 0