Driver Ratings And Summary - Russian GP
Safety Cars, Penalties and a familiar three on the podium in an unfamiliar order, but how did everyone perform?
***Disclaimer*** Ratings are made by taking into account their overall race performance, finishing position and strategy made by the team for that driver.
RACE RATING - 7/10
Lets be honest, we were all expecting this to be a boring procession, I can't remember the last time I was excited to see Sochi on the F1 Calendar; even going as far as contemplating just watching the highlights on Youtube, which I haven't done in a very long time, but it wasn't as boring as the majority of us expected it to be, made interesting early on by Hamilton's penalty for doing a practice start outside the designated area. From the outset though it looked like a simple one stop strategy race, which as we all know usually means a boring race, however, an early safety car disrupted teams strategies and setup a few interesting strategies. This was followed with spatters of close battles throughout the race; namely Norris, Russell & Albon, its just a shame most of the battles were for outside of the points. The midfield had some close and interesting battles too, but ultimately it was the same three drivers on the podium, albeit in an unfamiliar order. All in all, it was about as exciting as Sochi could've been.
Nicholas Latifi: 7/10
Started P20 / finished P16 (+4)
(Qualified P19 - 5 place penalty for unscheduled gearbox change)
Had great first lap gaining 5 places from the start, and a few minor battles along the way, but seemed to tail off as Williams tend to, an undramatic race nonetheless. Pitted on lap 20 for Hards and finished the race on them, spending most of those laps complaining about the cars handling, Latifi did finish above his teammate and Grosjean to his credit, ultimately kept his nose clean and brought the car home in what was probably another lonely race for the Rookie.
George Russell: 6/10
Started P13 / Finished: P18 (-5)
Pitted for a set of Hard tyres on lap one under the safety car and quickly found himself battling with Albon and Norris, albeit for 16th, but he held his own! A massive lock up whilst defending position prematurely ended his stint on the Hards and severely compromised his strategy, but then proceeded to make up for it and do 36 laps on the Mediums, the most of anyone who used this compound. Unfortunately for Russell, he just didn't show any race pace on the Medium tyre and his race tailed away, as they tend to do for Williams and had to pit onto a set of Softs with 2 laps left and ultimately finished last of the runners.
Romain Grosjean - 4/10
Started P16 / Finished P17 (-1)
Profited hugely from the lap 1 carnage, ending up in P10 by the time the pack had formed in front of the safety car, but tailed off quickly after just a few laps on the restart. Unlike his teammate who was troubling cars in front, Grosjean was looking his mirrors, slipping down to P18 after his second pitstop, I genuinely cant remember seeing him take turn 2 properly, every time the camera cut to him he was locking up and having to take the route around the bollards, the car looked undriveable and he was heard on the radio at numerous points complaining of no rear end grip, he did slip past a struggling Russell with a few laps to spare to take p17.
Kevin Magnussen: 8/10
Started P18 / Finished P12 (+6)
A very underrated drive by K-Mag, finishing just outside the points but didn't really put a foot wrong all race. Like his teammate, he took advantage of lap one carnage and ended up in P9 when the safety car came out, pitted on lap 20 for Hards and stayed on them for the rest of the race, doing 33 laps on them, battled drivers on varying strategies and moved up to P11 with 5 laps to go but got overtaken by Giovinazzi with a couple of laps left, held off both Raikonnen and Vettel to finish P12 which gave him his best race finish in a while and was tantalisingly close to a points finish.
Kimi Raikonnen 7/10
Started P19 / Finished P14 (+5)
Celebrating his 322nd start in F1, tying the record set by Ruebens Barrichello, although this one will probably not rank high amongst his favourite races. Did a tremendous 36 lap stint on the Hard's and was the last of the field to pit, unfortunately a 6.2 second stop due to a sticking front left tyre undid most of his hard work and killed his momentum for the rest of the race, finished 14th, but was battling with K-Mag and Vettel in the final laps for P12 leaving Alfa Romeo with a sense of "what if.." had his only pit stop gone a bit more according to plan.
Antonio Giovinazzi 8/10
Started P17 / Finished P11 (+6)
Another one who benefitted from the turn 1 turmoil, gaining 5 places on the opening lap and drove a solid, if uneventful race. Switched from Mediums to Hards on lap 16 and finished the race on that compound, quietly moved his way up the order, leapfrogged his teammate due to his slow pitstop and did a very good job defending against Albon in the latter stages with worn tyres and finished P11, his best result since the first race in Austria, just a few seconds from a points scoring position.
Pierre Gasly 7/10
started P9 / Finished P9 (0)
Another points scoring finish for Gasly, but I get the feeling he won't be happy with P9. Running an opposite strategy to his teammate and starting on the Softs, he was up to P7 after the first lap, but lost time after his first pitstop, going onto Hards, due to fighting with Kimi and Albon. Gasly will also feel a little frustrated with the teams decision to pit him again during the short Virtual Safety Car period, the only driver to pit under the VSC, this heavily backfired as green flags were waved before he had chance to put a fresh set of tyres on. Fought back valiantly with two late overtakes to reclaim P9 at the end of the race, overtaking Albon in the process, which must've felt sweet for him.
Daniil Kvyat 8.5/10
Started P11 / Finished P8 (+3)
Danny's home grand prix and it went very well for him. Starting on the Hard tyres, he really made the stint work for him, found himself running in the podium places at one point of the race and even fending off a charging Lewis Hamilton for a couple of laps. After his pitstop on lap 30, he came out well in front of his teammate, a testament to his race pace on his first stint, all in all a solid and mature drive from the former Red Bull driver which saw him finish in a very respectable 8th place and nearly stealing 7th from Ocon, finishing just a few tenths behind.
Sergio Perez 9.5/10 - Driver Of The Day
Putting himself In the shop window with his performance. Photo Credits: @racingpointf1 on twitter
Started P4 / Finished P4
Started 4th, finished 4th, probably the best result he could possibly achieve unless there was a Mercedes or Verstappen DNF, you would've forgotten he was part of the race as there was zero coverage on tv bar his cool overtake on Danny Ric around turn 3. A poor start by Perez in all fairness, losing places to both Renaults on the first lap. he did Make his softs last 20 laps, longer than anyone who used a set of Softs and jumping Ocon in the process. An undramatic drive and never looked in doubt, finishing 22 seconds ahead of 5th place Daniel Ricciardo. A very good advertisement for Perez in the drivers market, showing once again how well he can look after his tyres and extract the most out of his machinery.
Lance Stroll - N/A
Started P12 / Finished: DNF
Another weekend to forget for Stroll. He started well enough, climbing up to P7 at the start but only managed to get to turn 4 before being tagged by Leclerc from behind, ending up the wall, resulting in a second DNF in a row for the Canadian.
Sainz - N/A
Started P6 / Finished DNF
The only other DNF in the race. Starting in P6, Sainz went too deep into turn 2 resulting in having to go around the bollards, but misjudged the angle and hit the wall with an almighty crunch, coming across the circuit and compromising his teammate in the process, walked away unscathed despite the heavy impact, but maybe a bruised ego to go with his second DNF in a row.
Lando Norris 6.5/10
Started P8 / Finished P15 (-7)
The more I watch Lando, the more I think he doesn't get enough credit for how good his defending is. Started P8 but was severely compromised by his teammates crash into turn 2, having to majorly put the brakes on to avoid a collision and sustaining some damage from Sainz's crash in the process. Pitted on lap 1 under the safety car and came out P18, had some great battles with Russell and Albon for P16 and continued on a great recovery drive to P9 doing an incredible 46 laps on a set of Hards although they gave up on him with a few laps to go, losing places to Albon and Gasly in the process and had to pit with 5 laps to go finishing p15 in a day to forget for the McLaren team.
Daniel Ricciardo 8.5/10
Started P5 / Finished P5 (0)
Another solid points scoring weekend for Renault, but that agonising wait for a podium goes on. Overtaking Perez and Verstappen into turn 2 to jump up into P3 by turn 3, Verstappen and Ocon both managed to slip past leaving Ricciardo in P5 by the time the safety car was brought out. Come lap 15 The Honey Badger had dropped down to P6, thanks to a fantastic overtake by Perez round turn 3. Later in the race, with Ocon struggling to get past Sebastian Vettel and Danny going quicker, Renault made the decision to swap Ricciardo and his teammate around with what looked like a last minute decision into turn 2, causing Danny Ric to lock up and go wide, he did not re-enter the track via the bollards and was given a 5 second penalty for his troubles; to which Danny replied in typical positive fashion: "I'll drive faster", Ricciardo got past Vettel quick enough and in the end he kept enough of a gap to Leclerc behind to retain P5 at the end of the race.
Esteban Ocon 7.5/10
Started P7 / Finished P7 (0)
Another driver to finish where he started, but that does not mean his race was dull. Looked very racey on the Softs at the start of the race and by the time the Safety Car was brought out; he had leapfrogged his teammate up into P4 and even running in P3 just before pitting, but after coming into the pits on lap 18 for a set of Hards, he couldn't seem to find any pace; struggling to get past Vettel, who was on a used set of mediums, as mentioned above, this prompted the team to do a switcheroo to let his teammate through and although he might've tailed off and lost a place to Leclerc, what followed was some superb defending from Ocon to keep Kvyat behind for almost 20 laps to finish P7 in the race by just a few tenths.
Sebastian Vettel 5/10
Started P14 / Finished P13 (+1)
Another boring and forgettable race for the four time World Champion, with Vettel publicly questioning his teams strategy after the race saying he felt he was "left out to dry" by Ferrari in an attempt to slow the Renaults to aid his teammate, Charles Leclerc. With Vettel now numerically out of the championship at his earliest point since his Toro Rosso days and a poor qualifying in which he ended up in the barriers, things were looking bleak. Started on the Mediums but was unable to capitalise on the early chaos and Safety Car period, for the 30 laps he was on the Medium tyre he struggled to keep up with the cars in front, holding up the Renault of Ocon for a few laps, eventually pitting onto the Hard's and completed the rest of the 22 laps, some fun wheel to wheel racing followed but ultimately couldn't cut his way through the field finishing P13, outside the points once more.
Charles Leclerc 9/10
Started: P10 / Finished P6 (+4)
Lets be honest, dragging that dog of a Ferrari to P6 deserves a 10/10 in its own right, but that clash with Stroll into turn 4 has brought it down a point. Another driver who took advantage of the turn two chaos, he was up to P8 by turn 3, but then a daring lunge up the inside of Stroll in to turn 4 ended in tears for the Canadian when Leclerc tagged his rear, in a incident not too dissimilar to Hamiltons tag on Albon at Austria, and resulted in Stroll spinning and hitting the wall prematurely ending his race, this was deemed a "racing incident" by the stewards and Leclerc went unpunished which sparked debate amongst many a fan. From there he did a 28 lap stint on his mediums overcutting his midfield rivals to end up P6 where he stayed for the rest of the race, splitting the two Renaults, to give him his best result since The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Alex Albon 4/10
Started P15/ Finished P10 (+5)
(Qualified P10 - 5 place grid penalty for unscheduled gearbox change)
Another race where Albon spent the whole race fighting with teams that realistically, he should miles ahead of, what's going wrong? Albon pitted on lap 1 during the safety car onto a set of Hards to go long, and found himself languishing at the back of the field, once we got restarted he had a fabulous battle with Russell and Norris, but struggled to get past both and lost time, eventually pitting onto the mediums on lap 27, which he stayed on for the remainder of the race. Albon never really found clean air, constantly battling with other cars, but his RB20 did come alive on the Mediums and on lower fuel resulting in some trademark daring overtakes to make his way up to P10. Albon was also handed a 5 second penalty for re-joining the track incorrectly to add to his miserable outing, although to his credit he managed to build up enough of a gap to Giovinazzi behind to keep P10.
Max Verstappen 9/10
Started P2 / Finished P2 (0)
Another strong showing for Max. Lost two places at the start to Ricciardo & Hamilton, running wide into turn 2, although quickly took back P3 before the Safety Car was deployed. Verstappen then took back P2 during the pitstop phases as Hamilton was given a 10 second time penalty which he served during his pitstop. Max pitted on lap 25 for Hards and finished the race on them, coming out in clean air he was comfortably ahead of Hamilton but didn't have the pace to worry Bottas in front, crossing the line in P2, on a track that Red Bull have admitted they're not the most competitive at is an excellent result for driver and team.
Lewis Hamilton 7.5/10
Started P1 / Finished P3 (-2)
Unless you have been living under a rock the last few days, you will have known that Hamilton was given two 5 second time penalties during the race for pre-race practice start infringements which completely altered his race. Starting on the Soft's, he got away well and retained his lead, fending off Bottas into turn 2. After the Safety Car period was over, Lewis was handed his penalties for his infringements resulting in understandable confusion and anger on the 6-time World Champions end. After this, Hamilton was instructed to pit early around lap 13/14 with Hamilton's response being "dont you dare pit me" and proceeded to put in fastest lap after fastest lap until his eventual stop on lap 18 onto hards. The penalty dropped him through the field, but an excellent recovery drive brought him back up to the podium but in the final phase of the race he didn't have the tyres or the pace to trouble Verstappen in P2, finishing 15 seconds behind Max.
Valtteri Bottas 8.5/10
Started P3 / Finished P1 (+2)
Starting on the Mediums behind the Red Bull of Verstappen, it was critical he dispatched him quickly to stand any chance of beating Hamilton, and that exactly what Bottas did and even nearly getting past Hamilton into turn 2. After his teammate pitted and served his penalty, Bottas built a commanding lead to his teammate and Verstappen, eventually pitting on Lap 26 onto Hards and from there his win never looked in doubt driving a calm and collected race to take his second win of the season and a point for fastest lap for good measure.
What do you think? how many driver ratings did I get right? How many did I get completely wrong. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article don't forget to give it a like and follow me to be the first to read my articles when they go live. Follow me on Instagram: Mattj0seph & on twitter @matt10nes