NOTEBOOK – Russian Grand Prix – Review

Features Notebook

Formula One had another debut winner as Mercedes Valtteri Bottas withstood the pressure from two world champions to take victory in the Russian Grand Prix.

Bottas gets debut victory

Valtteri Bottas has a brilliant start in his opening four races overall for Mercedes and we expected him to have a win this season. But, we were all expecting the victory later in the season. I think overall he has stepped up to the mark like we saw Nico Rosberg do when Hamilton was unable to and he has proved himself to be able to do that.

He said “It’s going to take a while to sink in. Normally I’m not that emotional but hearing the Finnish national anthem was very special for me. It’s all a bit surreal, the first win and hopefully the first of many.”

“It was definitely one of my best races ever. The pressure from Sebastian wasn’t too bad; the main issue was with the lapped cars, trying to get past those. It was tricky to pass them without losing time.”

The Start

The start you can say played a key role for Bottas as he made a good start, getting in between Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Behind Lewis Hamilton squeezes between the Ferrari and the Red Bull. Bottas was then under pressure from the Ferrari’s but he holds them off.

Max Verstappen and Felipe Massa get past the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo as well.

Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer made contact as well on the opening lap, looks as if Grosjean was going down the inside as they turned in making contact. That pushes Palmer to the outside, but spins hits Grosjean lifting the Haas off the ground.

The stewards decide to take no action on the incident, however   Palmer, who also crashed out of qualifying, had pointed the finger of blame squarely at his rival’s door.

“I had a decent-enough start then heading down to Turn 2 there was a Sauber on my outside then Romain made a very ambitious move over the kerbs on the inside from behind,” the Briton explained.

“There was no space for me to go because of the Sauber, so maybe Romain wasn’t aware of that, but he kept it in, hit me, then we were both out of the race.”

Grosjean indicated that Palmer had closed the door on him going around the right hander. “We had a great start and I was on the inside of Palmer under braking,” said the Frenchman.

“I don’t know why he turned in. I was there and then he turned in. I tried to get as much as I could on the apex, but he just hit me, spun and came back and hit me again. The car was badly damaged and our race was over.”

Tent dragging loses race for Vettel

Sebastian Vettel says he lost that race at turn to as Valtteri Bottas had a good start and got in his slip stream when he reached the first braking point at Turn 2. Bottas got a good start from third on the grid and could slipstream Vettel before completing the move under braking.

Asked if he would have won the race with a better start, Vettel told ESPN “Well it’s difficult to pass, let’s put it that way. I think it would’ve been difficult for Valtteri to put a lot of pressure on even though he had.”

“I would say, superior pace in the first stint. I think if you look at that stint I was struggling in the beginning then sort of froze the gap and then I was able to close.”

McLaren

The latest twist in the long running drama saw Fernando Alonso not even make the start after he lost power on his way to the grid and, despite working to fix the problem, he pulled up at the pit lane entry at the end of the formation lap.

This is the second failure like this in a month as Stoffel Vandoorne failed to start the race in Bahrain two weeks ago because of the same problem. Alonso told ESPN “It’s tough, every weekend is the same. I’m not the boss of the team. I try to come here and drive as fast as I can and go back home.”

It added to another dismal week for the McLaren’s engine partner after Vandoorne was hit with a 15-place grid penalty for a wholescale power unit change on Friday.

Sauber – Honda

This morning ahead of the engine deadline tomorrow Sauber announced they are to switch to Honda power for 2018. There had been two rumours about this, we know Honda have long wanted to double the cars they supply and reports Sabuer wanted to dich Ferrari.

The move if Honda can keep McLaren will allow them to double there data pool and bring more information to help them progress. Honda looked like the only option, that of course prompted rumour that McLaren could ditch Honda.

I think from what you read its too late because I understand teams submit engines for 2018 on Tuesday to the FIA. Plus, Eric Boullier said he had increased “faith” that Honda was taking steps to produce a more competitive engine.

Sabuer’s race finished with Marcus Ericcson and Pascal Wehrlein being the last of the runners in fifteenth and sixteenth.

Red Bull

Like we keep saying appear as if there in a class of their own, with a great rivalry between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. But, Ricciardo had that break failure early on, you could see the flames around the inside of the wheel rim.

He explain what happened “After the safety car I looked in my mirror to see where the Force India was and I noticed that the right rear brake was on fire, I reported it to the team and they told me to bring the car back to the pits slowly.”

“Unfortunately the issue could not be fixed and I had to retire from the race. It was early in the race so I don’t know how much the safety car and two starts impacted us.”

Next stop Barcelona

Barcelona we will see the first major updates of the year as we return to Europe. Mercedes and Ferrari will be looking to get ahead of each other, we will be looking back to pre-season testing which will show how far better where the teams are.

But, Mercedes and Ferrari head into May with two wins each in what is shaping up to be a great season!

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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