Well, we learned that Bottas (Mercedes) is expendable, and as a ‘thank you’ Hamilton (Mercedes) invited him to share the top step of the podium. I remember a certain Michael Schumacher being gifted a race win by Rubens Barichello, who had been ordered to cede, and Schumacher then invited Rubens to share the top step of the podium. This brought the wrath of the FIA who fined Schumacher one million dollars. Fast forward to Russia and Team Orders again with Ocon (FIndia) and his team mate Perez taking turns at being the lead car.
With contrived pit wall racing and contrived DRS overtaking, there isn’t much to get excited about F1 anymore. By contrast, I watched footage from the Goodwood Festival of Speed and there were honest drivers, racing in honest cars. Such a difference!
We were also informed of the tyres that Pirelli had brought to Sochi. Hypersoft, Ultrasoft and Supersoft. Spectators do not care what the tyres are called, let’s try Soft, Medium and Hard which is more understandable.
The other factor in today’s F1 is the “Strategy”. Another factor of no interest to the spectator. Perez (FIndia) stating, “Strategy will be crucial because we are not starting on the best compound and those just outside the top 10, on harder tyres, will be the main threat.” The public just want the highly (over)paid prima donnas to get out there and ‘race’ each other.
Another factor in today’s racing is called Grid Penalties, and the organizers had a field day. Five drivers sent to the rear of the field. This, in turn, led the teams involved opting to remain in the garages rather than bother to go out in the second round of qualifying. Why bother when you are going to the rear of the grid. Save the engine and tyres.
The “race” began as expected and amazingly all cars got through the first corner. The real (and only) mover was Verstappen who had moved into the top 10 in eight laps. He continued on until he was leading the race by lap 18 and stayed there for 25 laps until he needed tyres, dropping him to fifth.
And that, gentle reader, was the sum total of the excitement in Russia.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 V Bottas Mercedes
3 S Vettel Ferrari
4 K Raikkonen
5 M Verstappen Red Bull
6 D Ricciardo Red Bull
7 C Leclerc Sauber
8 K Magnussen Haas – 52 laps
9 E Ocon Force India – 52 laps
10 S Perez Force India – 52 laps
11 R Grosjean Haas – 52 laps
12 N Hulkenberg Renault – 52 laps
13 M Ericsson Sauber – 52 laps
14 F Alonso McLaren – 52 laps
15 L Stroll Williams – 52 laps
16 S Vandoorne McLaren – 51 laps
17 C Sainz Renault – 51 laps
18 S Sirotkin Williams – 51 laps
P Gasly Toro Rosso Brakes – 4 laps
B Hartley Toro Rosso Brakes
Suzuka (Japan) is the next race (October 7) and with spectators leaving F1 in droves and the World Drivers Championship all but finished, I cannot see this next race being exciting either. But we can always live in hope.