Unfortunately I’ve left it a wee bit late to give the Russian GP the full review it maybe deserved seeing as qualifying for Spain is on….right now. (Annoying as I took detailed notes to write it all up!). This is not because it was a forgetable race however. In fact, for one certain Herra Bottas (Mr. Bottas, to you and me!), it will be the race he remembers for ever! Yes, after 81 F1 race entries, Valtteri Bpottas has become a race winner, taking the total number of race winners up to 107 (NERD FACT – that’s 14.13% of drivers ever to enter a F1 race).
Bottas started in 3rd behind the two Ferraris. Beforehand, this race seemed to be a cecrtain victory for one of the Ferraris (probably Vettel), but a stunning get away from Bottas saw him jump into the lead by the 2nd corner! Watch below to see how he did it –
From there, he managed to hold off an ever advancing Vettel to claim victory, taking him to 10 points behind Hamilton in the Drivers’ standings, and pushing Mercedes 1 point clear in the Constructors’ table. That brings us 3 different winners in the first 4 races, the first time that that has happened since 2013, although Vettel went on to dominate the second half of the season. Botta’s victory was by no means a fluke, the way he held off Vettel in the closing stages was an example of how a race winner drives. No doubt this will be the first of a decent number of wins, but whether he can convert his victories into a championship remains to be seen.
Hamilton’s performance probably also contributed to Botta’s win (not saying that the win was undeserved though!). Hamilton had a tough weekend, qualifying 4th and not really making much of an impact during the race. It was another one of those weekend’s where it’s like Lewis hasn’t really turned up. He usually has one or two weekends like that during a seasom, so it’s safe to assume that this won’t affect him too much. He’s been through the troubles with the balance of the car that he had, and he’ll be focussing on the Spanish race tomorrow. He’ll be hoping that there’ll be no repeat of what happenened last year…
Briefly, what happened further down the field? Well Alonso didn’t start – engine troubles on the parade lap, Palmer and Grosjean took each other out at the second corner, Stroll spun (surprise, surprise) but saved it and only lost some places, Ricciardo’s right rear wheel caught fire (see picture below), Massa got a slow puncture and had to pit coming back out in ninth, crucially behond the Force Indias. He also maybe wasn’t as helpful as he could have been in letting Vettel past on the final lap when the Ferrari was frightfully close to Bottas. The ‘Tifosi’ (die-hard Ferrari fans) will kick up a fuss and call foul, but Massa didn’t do anything wrong – that’s racing!
Special shout out to Lance Stroll for finishing his first F1 race on his 4th attempt!
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s Spanish GP then, what can we expect to happen? Well, seeing as qualifying is under way as I type, it’s tricky to say! I’m not planning to watch it until this evening either. It’s safe to assume that it’ll be a close fight for pole between the Ferrari’s and Mercedes. I think Merecedes will just edge the Italians out though, and we’ll see HAM-BOT-VET on the top 3 spots. Hamilton will bounce back from the last race, Bottas will be riding a wave of achievement and Vettel will be the rest of the rest. As for the race itself, who can say! Who’d have said that Verstappen would have won last year!? Providing there’s no inter-team argy-bargy, I would say we’ll see Hamilton come out on top, and potentially see Bottas and Vettel swapping places. It’s looking like it’ll be a one stop strategy this year with the revised tyre compounds, making that pitstop even more crucial. That’s what I think will happen, I’d LOVE to see Raikkonen take the win though, and take us to 4 winners for this year and really light this season on fire!
Do you agree? Think I’m horribly wrong? Let me know on Twitter – @formulaed_up
I’d also love to see McLaren do a little better, but… y’know… Things don’t look so good after Alonso’s car blew up after leaving the pits in practice. There are rumours going round that McLaren have severed ties with Honda for next year and will be going back to the Mercedes engine. I’ve not been able to confirm this yet with various news sources, but Eddie Jordan called it and he knows his stuff… Fear not though Honda fans (if there are any!), Honda will definitely be in F1 next year as they’ve signed an agreement to supply Sauber with engines.
Finally, here’s how the top two championship leaders compare so far –
I’ll explain the ‘Alt. Points’ and ‘Performance Factor’ in another post, but for know you can see that’s it’s pretty close!