Smashing time at Sochi


Allow me to reminisce. In my previous life, on Saturday nights we would go to the “Ekka” (the Exhibition Speedway) and watch the Sprint cars demolish each other on the first lap, resulting in re-start after re-start after re-start. The drivers were not professional racers, but were Saturday night heroes. They did not understand that you never win the race on the first lap – you only lose the race on the first lap.

Moving on a couple of decades and you have the highest paid professional race drivers in the world (we’re talking millions of dollars here) racing in Sochi in Russia. Would you believe that they do not understand that you never win the race on the first lap – you only lose the race on the first lap. Better believe, baby!

Russia’s future hope Daniil Kvyat crashes into four times champion Sebastian Vettel, not once, but twice on the opening lap. After smacking the wall, on team radio, Vettel said, “I’m out. Crash. Somebody hit me in the effing rear in turn two, then someone hit me in the effing rear again in turn three? Honestly. What the eff are we doing here?”

Well Seb, let me tell you what you are doing there – you have some older mature heads, such as yourself, racing against young hot heads, such as Daniil. And please don’t forget when you ran into your team mate, not once, but twice, when you were a new young driver too (us older chaps have good memories). These new young chargers have plenty of skill and enough hormones to keep an army upright – but lack maturity.

Also involved in a separate first lap tangle was Hulkenberg (FIndia) and Haryanto (Manor) which saw them first into the showers.

But back to the main crashing event, Kvyat was penalized 10 seconds – a piddling penalty. Exclusion from the next two meetings would have been more in order, and now on to the race report.

The Russian GP was Rosberg’s (Mercedes) to lose, rather than for his team mate Lewis Hamilton to win, coming from 10th on the grid after another engine failure in Qualifying. He benefitted by the opening shambles and was very quickly up to second place with Rosberg 12 seconds up the road, which he began to systematically reduce. However, it was not Hamilton’s day (again) and his Mercedes engine began to lose water pressure and he had to drive with one eye on the water temperature and the other on the track and had to settle for second.

After qualifying well, Bottas (Williams) was on the front row of the grid, but this did not last long, being passed by fellow countryman Raikkonen (Ferrari).

A short safety car period resulted from lap two to allow the track staff to pick up bits of Vettel’s Ferrari and a few spare expletives still ringing in the atmosphere, however, while following the safety car Kimi fell asleep (as is his wont) and allowed Rosberg to skip away when racing resumed.

Hamilton soon passed Kimi making the Finn third, a position he kept till the end.

The Williams team has been benefitting from their Mercedes power plants, but seem to get tired around mid race and both Bottas and Massa seemed to go into cruise mode till the end.

Mention must be made of Alonso (McLaren) who kept the pressure up, nipped and tucked cleverly and even dialed in extra fuel at one stage to set very competitive times. It was great to see the Spaniard obviously enjoying the race, and encouraging for Honda that they are on the right track (pun intended).

1 Rosberg Mercedes
2 Hamilton Mercedes
3 Raikkonen Ferrari
4 Bottas Williams
5 Massa Williams
6 Alonso McLaren
7 Magnussen Renault
8 Grosjean Haas 52
9 Perez Force India
10 Button McLaren