The 2018 Russian GP took place at the Sochi Autodrom in Sochi over the weekend. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton win the race and consolidated his lead at the top of the drivers championship. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finished second followed by Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished third and fourth respectively.
Let us take a look at five takeaways from the Russian GP.
Mercedes is the new Ferrari – when it comes to team orders?
When it comes to team orders, Mercedes, this season, has been ruthless. Team orders from Mercedes were clear – no two way about it. Bottas has played it, as he was asked to – conceding his place from a winning position – like a Rubens Barrichello or an Eddie Irvine did in the 1990s.
And Mercedes, in its part, did not think twice in taking decisions which would consolidate the world drivers championship title for Lewis Hamilton, something which Ferrari failed thus far this season, which seems to have cost the cost championship.
At Monza, Valtteri Bottas did the blocking job as he was told to do, and at Russia, he was to go one more stop, first blocking and then letting his teammate move ahead. This time no gentleman agreement between Lewis Hamilton/Totto and Valteri, as happened in 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s Russian Escape
Vettel and Ferrari should thank Red Bull for taking those engine penalties at Sochi. Else their Russian weekend would have been even terrible. Instead of chasing the Silver Arrows, they would have chased the two Red Bulls, such was the pace deficiency to the lead cars since FP 2.
In conditions which were more representative of quali and race, Vettel at fifth was almost one-tenth slower than the fourth-placed Daniel Ricciardo. Friday night set-up changes did not help either, the 0.5 secs gap to the front-runner remained at end of Q3 on Saturday. With this kind of pace differentiation, Red Bull would have been a sure shot podium contender, proof is the way, Max could claw his way up to the front.
New Updates didn’t work on Ferrari?
Ferrari brought in significant updates for the SF71H, particularly to its front-end. Modifications were made to the front-wing, footplate, mainplane, among others. `It also modified its turning vanes. It also brought in a rear wing endplate design complementing the unique spoon-shaped rear wing elements, so as to minimize drag on Sochi’s straights.
However, Ferrari’s pace woes during free practice made them switch back to their normal setup for enhancing the balance of the two cars. Mercedes, on its part, modified its rear-wing, opting for two thinner swan-neck supports (copied from Ferrari) as against single rear-wing pillar.
Gasly was lucky to escape an incident similar to the one happened to Felipe Massa at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. During lap 1 of the Russian Grand Prix, debris (probably from the nose of Daniel Ricciardo’s car) has hit Gasly’s visor. Size of carbon debris showed that he was lucky to escape unhurt.
Best of the Rest Championship
Best of the rest, the championship within championship is shaping up nicely, with Haas now just 11 points behind Renault. Sauber too closing in on the Toro Rosso, with just three points behind. A very disappointing Russian outing for Renault as both the cars failed to make into top 10. But the new Force India continued to impress, with both cars enjoying a top 10 finish.