Winners and losers from Formula 1's Russian Grand Prix - The Race
Formula 1

Winners and losers from Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix

Sep 27 2020

There was an obvious disparity in mood at Formula 1’s top team as Valtteri Bottas won the Russian Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton was doomed not to by a pre-race infringement.

But who else further pack deserves plaudits or castigation today? We highlight the winners and losers.

WINNERS

Sergio Perez

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaHaving qualified strongly despite not having the Mugello-spec aerodynamic updates (although he did have the new suspension), Perez drove a superb race after slipping from fourth to sixth at the start.

He passed Daniel Ricciardo in the first stint and ran longer than any of the other soft starters at a pace good enough to jump past Esteban Ocon by stopping later, securing fourth place – his best F1 result for two-and-a-half years. – Edd Straw

Daniil Kvyat

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaThis was both timely and appropriate given the career pressure and the location respectively.

We said before the weekend that Kvyat needs to produce some eye-catching drives to rescue his seat – and this performance at his home race was certainly that.

He maximised the great strategy of starting on the hard tyre – ironically giving him a decisive edge over team-mate Pierre Gasly on account of not making Q3 – and ran hard and long in free air.

With a bit more end of straight speed, he’d have done Ocon for seventh. – Mark Hughes

Antonio Giovinazzi

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Sochi, RussiaGiovinazzi hasn’t had a great run of late and qualifying was so-so, only beating his Alfa Romeo team-mate thanks to Kimi Raikkonen spinning on his final Q1 lap.

But after jumping to 12th at the start, he drove a fine race to finish 11th – 12.7s off the points even with Alex Albon’s penalty but winning the unofficial ‘Class C’ race ahead of Kevin Magnussen. – ES

Valtteri Bottas

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaA perfect day for Bottas. You might say he was the beneficiary of two Hamilton mess-ups (one in qualifying, another pre-race) but he maximised that opportunity perfectly.

Had he not managed to do so in such favourable circumstances it would arguably have been even more demoralising than just taking the usual drubbing from his team-mate

But this should at least give Bottas some mental energy to take the fight to Hamilton in the races to come. – MH

Charles Leclerc

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaYet again, Leclerc made a Ferrari appear far higher up the order than it should’ve been. His time in second was of course a strategy-related illusion, but splitting the Renaults for sixth was one of the drives of the race. – Matt Beer

LOSERS

Sainz (and McLaren)

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaCarlos Sainz Jr’s solemn apology after crunching his McLaren into the wall at the rejoin lane told you everything you needed to know about how silly a misjudgement it was.

The Turn 2 run-off is always a menace and there must be better ways to deal with it, but this is the solution for now and the drivers know how it works: charging into it as Sainz did, off-line, was foolish.

Sainz has had an unlucky year but generally been a very strong performer. His misery at Sochi was entirely self-inflicted.

That, combined with Lando Norris’s troubled first lap, condemned McLaren to a point-less grand prix that has eradicated its advantage in the constructors’ championship’s third-place fight after a better day for rivals Renault and Racing Point. – Scott Mitchell

George Russell

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaHaving taken hards under the early safety car, Russell was settled in for a long run when he had a big lock-up.

The resulting flatspot forced him to pit for fresh rubber and he ended up last having taken another pitstop late on in a futile pursuit of fastest lap. He set a 1m37.352s – 0.3s from Bottas’s benchmark – on the last tour. – ES

Lewis Hamilton

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaComplaints about tyre management are fairly common with Hamilton as it tends to be part of his venting process, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

That means it’s rare for it to be accompanied by his head dropping, which seemed to happen after his time penalties.

Ultimately, it was Hamilton’s mistake. The penalty was justified. He had loads of complaints, but they weren’t merited.

Thereafter he did what he needed to do to get third because his penalties and being forced to start on softs meant he was never likely to challenge the top two.

It was a muted, unhappy race on a day he could have made history by equalling Michael Schumacher’s win record. – SM

Alex Albon

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Sochi, RussiaAfter the high of his first podium at Mugello this was a crushing bump down to earth for the Red Bull driver.

If Red Bull was convinced by Albon it would have confirmed him for 2021 by now. It hasn’t and weekends like this are perhaps why.

Sochi abruptly ended some good momentum for Albon, who has genuinely improved over the last four events.

But he was off the pace all weekend here, never looked like having the breakthrough Verstappen enjoyed, and had his race compromised by a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

He ended a difficult race 10th despite having a five-second time penalty as well, but that was a measly return given Verstappen was on the podium again. – SM

Esteban Ocon

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaSeventh place isn’t a bad result in a Renault, but having run fourth early on it’s a disappointment for Ocon.

His race was compromised after his pitstop thanks to getting stuck behind Vettel, which allowed Perez to run longer on softs and jump ahead and also resulted in Renault ordering him to let Ricciardo past.

Leclerc, who started on meduums, also ran long and jumped Ocon, meaning his race added up to a three-place loss from where he was early on. – ES

Sebastian Vettel

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Race Day Sochi, RussiaIf you want to get a true indication of what the 2020 Ferrari is currently capable of, you should probably take a median average between what Leclerc’s doing and what Vettel does.

Today we had Leclerc starting 10th and Vettel starting 14th. Leclerc running as high as second and Vettel only getting up to seventh on their similar strategies. Leclerc sixth at the flag, Vettel 13th. And they were running 55s apart at the finish.

A four-time champion shouldn’t be spending his afternoons finishing near the back and only getting airtime when he’s the launchpad for comedy Romain Grosjean incident. – MB

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