Mercedes Takes Sochi Race, But It's Not Hamilton...


[Photos Courtesy: Renault Sport Racing/Force India]

((HT: NBCSN/Formula 1))

It was an odd day for some and a long day for others, but the Formula 1 race in Sochi (aka The Russian Grand Prix) went to Valtteri Botas... Here's the ending...

American-based Haas Racing had a long day that involved a first-lap crash involving Romain Grosjean and Pascal Wehrlein that knocked them both out of the race. Kevin Magnussen had to deal with a five-second penalty and would finish a lap down in 13th...

Ferrari would be the "meat in the Mercedes sandwich" as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen would go 2-3 with Lewis Hamilton fourth. Max Verstappen would finish fifth in front of the two Force India cars- Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

“Sixth place feels very satisfying and with Esteban in seventh it has been a really positive day for the team," Perez admitted after the race. "We’ve consolidated our fourth place in the championship and I’m seventh in the drivers’ championship – which is a tremendous effort from the first four races. The race today was not especially exciting for me because I was always on my own in clean air – chasing the cars ahead and pulling away from the cars behind. So there were no on-track battles and I could simply focus on managing my race and bringing home the points. The team did a great job with the strategy – waiting until the right moment to pit and not coming in too soon. Once again, we took all the opportunities that were on the table and we can feel very happy tonight.”

“It feels great to finish in seventh after such a strong performance from the whole team," Ocon said post-race. "I am very happy with what we achieved this weekend: we improved in every session and never went backwards. From the mechanics to the engineers, everyone did a great job and we can be proud. I feel there is nothing more we could have extracted from the car: the only negative from the race was a poor start, but I managed to get those positions back before the first lap was over, so it was all good in the end. Finishing in the points in all of the first four races is a great way to start the season and the best I could have hoped for. We are in fourth position going into Barcelona, where we expect some upgrades to be on our car, so we can be confident about the future.”

Behind Magnussen and in front of Grosjean were the two Sauber cars- Marcus Ericsson and Wehrlein who finished 15th and 16th- the last two operating cars on the track.

((Photo Courtesy: Sauber F1 Racing Team))

“It was definitely not a satisfying race for us," Ericsson admitted. "Especially the first stint after the safety car which was just not good. I was struggling a lot with the balance of the car and the tyres were not working properly so I had difficulties keeping up with the pace of the cars in front of me. The second stint was ok, and I was able to make up some ground to the car in front of me. Overall I felt we took a step back in terms of the car balance in the race compared to the rest of the weekend. We need to analyse what we can improve to be more competitive in the races for the upcoming GP weekends.” “Since the practice sessions on Friday we knew that the race on this track would not be in our favour," Wehrlein said. "During the race I wasn’t able to bring the tyres into the optimal working window which resulted in our less competitive lap times. In general I felt uncomfortable in the car this weekend. Now we need to look into the data to understand the reasons. I hope that we can put in a better performance during the upcoming Grand Prix in Barcelona, where car updates are planned.”

Here's the opening lap wreck with Wehrlein and Grosjean- decide for yourself...

((HT: SkySportsF1/YouTube))

Next up: The Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks...

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