Monday 23 October 2017 / 07:43 AM

BOTTAS TAKES OUT RUSSIAN GP

The Russian street circuit at Sochi hosted the fourth round of the Formula 1 Championship on Sunday. A relatively new track has a good mix of sweeping and tight corners with a long home straight and a first corner that almost certainly looks designed to wreak havoc on lap 1.

The first two practice sessions went largely without any mishaps. Every driver managed to get at least 16 laps completed in FP1, with Kimi Raikkonen setting the pace early, while Lewis Hamilton was half a second behind his new team mate Valtteri Bottas. FP2 saw the pace quicken considerably, with all drivers bar Red Bull’s Max Verstappen punching out at least 22 laps. Verstappen’s car lost power, limiting him to just 15 laps. Jolyon Palmer’s car troubles flared up again as well. His team put in an all-nighter to fix his gremlins and put a new chassis on his car. The Ferrari’s were both well clear of the Ferrari’s and again Hamilton was behind Bottas. The gap to Red Bull and the rest of the field had also begun to widen.

Day 2 started with Free Practice 3, and again Palmer was in trouble, this time it was his power unit that had failed, restricting him to just 4 laps and lead to a rapid repair job so that he would be able right for qualifying later that day. The results were near identical to FP2.

Qualifying saw Palmer smack into the wall and requiring yet another long night of rebuilding by his crew. Bottas was the first in the first two qualifying runsbut the big surprise came in final qualifying when Raikkonen set the fastest time before his team mate Sebastian Vettel snatched pole at the very end, giving Ferrari their first front row lock out on the grid since France in 2008. Bottas ran third with Hamilton unable to put a strong lap together, qualified fourth. The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen were split by Williams’ Felipe Massa.

The race saw Fernando Alonso’s McLaren fail to complete the pre-race parade lap. The on the first lap, Romain Grosjean ran into Jolyon Palmer causing the pair to crash and subsequently retired from the race. Ricciardo pitted after 5 laps with a rear brake failure. The start though saw Bottas explode off the start and he passed Vettel before the first corner. With only one stop expected, the start was vital.

Bottas held on to beat a rapidly finishing Vettel by just over half a second, helped somewhat by his former team mate at Williams, Massa, when he found himself as a back marker thanks to a last ditch pit stop required as he had a slow puncture. Massa returned just in front of the leaders and with two laps left, Bottas got around Massa easily, but Vettel wasn’t so lucky, taking two more turns to pass the Williams.

It gave Bottas enough space to go on and win his first ever race in Formula 1. Raikkonen was a strong third place while a seemingly despondent Hamilton ran fourth. Verstappen was well behind him and well clear of the sixth placed Sergio Perez.

Final Standings (Top 10)
1 – Bottas (Mercedes)
2 – Vettel (Ferrari)
3 – Raikkonen (Ferrari)
4 – Hamilton (Mercedes)
5 – Verstappen (Red Bull)
6 – Perez (Force India)
7 – Ocon (Force India)
8 – Hulkenberg (Renault)
9 – Massa (Williams)
10 – Sainz (Toro Rosso)

Drivers Championship (Top 10)
1 – Vettel – 86
2 – Hamilton – 73
3 – Bottas – 63
4 – Raikkonen – 49
5 – Verstappen – 35
=6 – Ricciardo – 22
=6 – Perez – 22
8 – Massa – 18
9 – Sainz – 11
10 – Ocon – 9

Constructors Championship
1 – Mercedes – 136
2 – Ferrari – 135
3 – Red Bull – 57
4 – Force India – 31
5 – Williams – 18
6 – Toro Rosso – 13
7 – Haas – 8
8 – Renault – 6
=9 – Sauber – 0
=9 – McLaren – 0

[YouTube – FORMULA 1]

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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