Russian Grand Prix: winners and losers

Großer Preis von Russland 2017, Freitag – Steve Etherington / Mercedes AMG Petronas

 

Winners

Valtteri Bottas: He claimed his first victory in F1, even starting from third and managed to hold his nerve to cross the line ahead of the chasing Vettel. Even with all the talk before the weekend about him going to be the “number two” driver and moving over to let Hamilton past, this weekend Hamilton was off the pace all three days. Will we now see Bottas joining the championship battle and giving Mercedes another driver headache?

Ferrari: They managed to claim their first front row lock out for 9 years on Saturday with Vettel on pole and Räikkönen behind. Even though they lost they lost the lead going into Turn 1, they managed to keep Hamilton behind and take the remaining podium positions, which allowed Vettel to build on his championship lead by another six points. It was also a much needed confidence boost for Räikkönen to get back on the podium after struggling in the first three races. This might keep the “Kimi out” rumours a bit quieter for another couple of weeks.

Force India: What a brilliant weekend for the small team from Silverstone: with both cars in the top ten in qualifying for the first time this season, they managed to build on that in the race to finish sixth and seventh while their main championship rivals struggled. This keeps their 100% points finishes with both cars, and makes Perez the best-of-the-rest in the championship as he ties on points with Ricciardo in seventh. As for Ocon in his first full season in the sport he managed to improve on his run of tenth-place finishes from the previous races, with a superdrive bringing it home in seventh that helped Force India pull a small gap from Williams in the standings.

Nico Hülkenberg: One side of the Renault garage can be happy with a new front wing seemingly helping Hülkenberg’s and Renault’s race pace. He once again managed to get into Q3 and qualified eighth, where he managed to finish the race once again collecting valuable points for the team.

Losers

Lewis Hamilton: Even though he still managed to finish fourth and collect good points, his main championship rival extended his lead, and he was totally out-paced all weekend by his teammate. He only qualified fourth, which was extremely disappointing by his standards, and stayed there all race.

Red Bull: With a second brake failure in as many races costing them even more championship points it’s not looking good for Red Bull. Already a full second slower than Ferrari and Mercedes and with poor reliability too, they really need their B-Spec car to be a huge improvement or it could be a long year.

Williams: Falling behind Force India again, with Massa only managing ninth with a late slow puncture issue which cost him three positions and the team a lot of points. Stroll was also off the pace only finishing eleventh, though doing a good job to take his first race finish, and he has to improve quickly or with the midfield battle so close we could see Williams dropping down the championship. And to make things worse, they even missed out on the fastest pit stop this weekend.

McLaren: Already acquiring penalties for using more engine parts at race four of twenty, its going to be a very long season for Alonso and Vandoorne: even if Honda can fix their reliability issues, there will be many back row starts guaranteed—but at least that’s better than breaking down on the formation lap. It’s not good enough from a team with such great history.

Jolyon Palmer: A very poor weekend for him: crashing in qualifying was the start, and with his teammate Hulkenberg setting a time 1.3s quicker than him Palmer has to quickly rethink his strategy over the next two weeks. Crashing during the race going into Turn 1 didn’t help either, and with many other drivers waiting for a seat could Palmer’s time be running out fast.

Richard Hindson, F1 Correspondent

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