Rate the Race and Driver of the weekend –
Round 4 Sochi, Russia
Mean Reader Score: 4.26
Well, this race scored even lower than 2016’s 5.2 (which was considered pretty poor.) In fact (in your esteemed opinion) this race scored lower than the ‘worst’ race of the 2016 season. Why could this be? All through free practice Ferrari seemed to have the upper hand over Mercedes, as Raikkonen topped FP1, and Vettel topped FP2, 3 and qualifying. Ferrari blocked out the front row of the grid for the first time since 2008 and Hamilton was having an ‘off’ weekend. Expectations were high for this race, excitement was palpable and everyone was on the edge of their seats come race day. Bottas out qualified his team mate (making ‘team orders’ rather more difficult for Mercedes to implement) and with the highest scoring Mercedes at third on the grid, Ferrari had this one in the bag. Or so it seemed. However this was not to be. Alonso didn’t quite make it to the starting grid, abandoning his car in disgust, causing another formation lap to come into play.
Second time lucky? With a strong headwind, Vettel got off to an ok start, Kimi not so good and Bottas good, getting a bit of a tow initially before pulling out and away into the lead, upsetting the applecart from the beginning. Stroll went for a spin (allegedly courtesy of Hulkenberg but that’s debatable) Palmer and Grosjean collided and retired, and that, folks was pretty much it for the remaining 50+ laps. Not a single overtake took place after the initial flurry of the start.
Driver of the Weekend: Valteri Bottas 70.00% of Reader vote.
This will be one weekend Valteri Bottas will not forget in a hurry. Having the upper hand over his team mate all weekend and narrowly missing pole, he started on the clean side of the grid in P3 behind the Ferraris, got a good start and didn’t look back the whole race. He didn’t put a foot wrong (except for one lockup in his final stint which made his bones shake for a good few laps at the end.) Being pretty much a one stop across the board, there wasn’t much room for strategy to come into play. Vettel pitted late (lap 34, seven laps after Bottas) and went at full throttle chasing down Bottas for the remaining 17 laps, trying to force the younger, less experienced driver to make a mistake. Bottas’ lead was reduced from 4.6s to a tantalizing 0.6s by the end of the race, but Bottas kept his cool and walked off with his first F1 victory. Well, accolades are a bit like busses- you wait ages for one and then three come along together. Well done Valteri!! F1 maiden victory , F1 Driver of the Day and TheJudge13 Driver of the Weekend- how good can it get?
Surely Lewis must now have a serious handful in Valteri for the title challenge. Maybe the no.2’s aren’t going to be playing second fiddle after all.