Rate the Race and Driver of the weekend – Round 16 Sochi, Russia, 2019
Mean Reader score: 5.73 Rated =12/16
Rated 12th out of 16 races so far this season it’s ranking was the same as last year, even if the score was not.
This year’s score of 5.73 was higher than 2018’s 4.57, 2017’s 4.26 and even 2016’s 5.20. So, was this a good race? It was certainly controversial and had viewers: a) on the edge of their seats and b) up in arms, but was there actually any racing going on?
Sadly not. At least not at the front, middle or back of the grid. Feelings were running high and people were furious (mostly with Ferrari and its drivers) as to who did or did not disobey team orders or should there have been any issued in the first place?
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In short: Leclerc took his fourth pole in a row. Hamilton was on the front row, ahead of Vettel and Bottas. Verstappen took a five grid penalty and Sainz qualified and started in P5.
Vettel got off to a blistering start, overtook Hamilton AND Leclerc and was promptly told to let Leclerc past. No chance. After much to-ing and fro-ing on team radios, Ferrari finally agreed that Leclerc should try to catch Vettel before Vettel had to let him past.
The switch was done after Leclerc’s pitstop. Vettel’s tyres were shot and Ferrari left him out for another couple of laps, allowing Leclerc (and Hamilton) catch up, and Leclerc to take the lead. It all went pear shaped though as Vettel then suffered a DNF due to an MGUK problem, prompting the ‘Bring back the *ucking V12s’ – a comment which will surely spawn many an F1 tee-shirt.
Albon and Gasly scrapped a bit, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Russel and Kubica also retired and Ferrari pitted Leclerc onto a fresh set of medium tyres so he could try to overtake Hamilton and win the race.
Sadly he failed not only to do this but also overtake Bottas, who was also in front of him, finishing in P3. With so little action on track, who then won our Driver of the Weekend? It was none other than
Driver of the Weekend: Sebastian Vettel 27.68% of Reader vote.
Even if he did only complete 26 laps, they were enough to convince our readers (AND the F1 pole voters) that Vettel deserved both accolades. As can be seen from above, the beginning of the race was controversial.
There are as many opinions on the matter as there were people watching the race as to who did or did not break/obey team orders, should there have/have not been any in the first place, who is/is not Ferrari’s No1 driver and who does/does not deserve to be so.
The word ‘karma’ was doing the rounds (in every variety/application imaginable) on social media. But one thing is for certain: we saw a flickering of the Vettel of old in this race: determined not to be overlooked and proving that there is still ‘life in the (not so) old dog yet.’
One thing was also apparent from Vettel supporters and detractors alike: he certainly not deserve to be treated as badly by Ferrari as he was on Sunday. And, as I’ve been saying for years now: Never Underestimate Vettel. Well done Sebastian!