May 01, 2016

F1 Update: Russia 2016

A partly sunny and cool day greeted the F1 Circus as they made their way around the Bolshoi Ice Dome, heading towards the start/finish line of the Sochi Autodrom.  The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg led the field, riding high on a six-race win streak while his teammate and erstwhile main rival for the championship, Lewis Hamilton, was far back in the field.  Would a German finally win in Russia?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2016 Grand Prix of Russia!

*LIGHTS OUT:  We're not going to lie, the race was interesting for a grand total of two turns.  It was in that second turn that the expected demolition derby occurred, sending multiple cars into the pits for replacement parts.  It also ended the race of Rio Rainbow Gate, Nico Hulkenberg, and Ferrari's Seb Vettel.  The German was taken out of the race by counteroffensives from Kid Kyvat, defending his home circuit.  The Red Bull driver hit Vettel once in Turn 2, tipping him into a half-spin, then nailed him a second time a very short time later, knocking the red car into the wall and ending his day.  Vettel then voiced his opinion of the incident on team radio... fortunately, the profanities were bleeped out, protecting ears across the world.  In the melee, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton advanced from 10th on the grid at the start to fifth.  The safety car that was called out lasted for three laps.

*RESTART:  The safety car left the track, and the restart went the way it always does: the leader manages to dash away, leaving the car in second to desperately try to claw back any ground lost to third place.  Meanwhile, Hamilton quickly took fourth, then third place three laps later.  The fight for second place, with the Williams of Valterri Bottas would take much longer.

*FOREGONE CONCLUSION: In fact, it took until Lap 19, at which point Hamilton dropped a nice move on the Finn for second.  However, their squabbling over the position meant that they had no way of challenging the leader... an opening that Nico Rosberg took full advantage of.  After he had stopped for new tires and returned to the race, he had a 12 second lead over his teammate.  While it would drop as low as seven seconds on Lap 35, one never got the sense that Hamilton had the ability to get past Rosberg, let alone catch him... his long-term fight over second place with the similarly-engined Williams made that clear.  Indeed, Hamilton was a distant 25 seconds behind when the race finished, only six seconds clear of a resurgent Kimi Raikkonen in third.  Bottas was fourth, followed by Felipe Not Nasr Massa, his Williams teammate.  A pleasant sight in sixth place was the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, followed by the Renault of Kevin Magnussen... the first points for that team this season.  Haas continued their amazing debut with Lettuce Grosjean finishing in eighth, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez, and Jenson Button put the second McLaren in the points as well with its 10th place finish.

*FINAL THOUGHTS
:  This race was a dog from beginning to end.  When Vaucaunson's Duck is sending us pictures of his cat ignoring the race, you know it's bad, and it really was.  It's an awful track, filled with boring turns, and we couldn't even count on tire wear to liven it up... a set of super-soft tires could last 25 laps here, out of 52.  Russia is in the rear-view mirror, thankfully, and we'll next be in Spain.  Catalunya isn't much better, but we'll be beginning the European leg of the calendar, which means upgrades.  It'll be a whole new game then.  See you there.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:44 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1

I was up for this, so I watched the running commentary on the F1 web page while I did other things.

From what I could tell, Hamilton drove an amazing race. Coming in second with all the crap that was impeding him was an amazing achievement. Obviously he wanted to challenge Rosberg for the lead, but when he started having problems with his cooling system that dream went out the window. But even making it to second was really difficult and he really ought to get credit for it.

It's the second 1-2 for Mercedes this year, and the team seems to be running away from everyone else. Unfortunately, this strongly implies another boring season like last year. About the only real challenge at this point is guessing how many races will remain to run when Mercedes wraps up the team championship. 5? 6?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 02, 2016 12:48 AM (+rSRq)

2 You know, it wasn't that amazing of a race that he drove. He's got a car that's head-and-shoulders faster than everyone on the track except for the other guy driving the same car. If you can do a second faster a lap than the next fastest guy on the track, yeah, you can probably pass him, especially if you're a world champion AND have a DRS system.

At this point it's a question of whether anyone can improve to the point that they can challenge Mercedes (and only two other teams are even in shouting distance.)

I've got to agree - awful race all around.

Posted by: Avatar at May 02, 2016 01:28 PM (v29Tn)

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