F1: From Russia With Love

The Silver Arrows have yet again dominated the race weekend in Sochi with what now seems the standard one-two finish that you have either grown to love, or for those Williams and Red Bull fans out there, grown to despise.

Mercedes not only wrapped up the weekend with their classical domineering prowess, but did so in style by locking up the front row in qualifying, and by winning the Constructor’s Championship for the first time, with 595 points and three races still to go. Despite Force India’s Sergio Perez having to drastically conserve fuel in the latter stages of the race, and Williams’ Fillipe Massa needing to resort to a two-stop strategy after severe tyre degradation, the Silver Arrows had no such issues. In fact, their only worry lied in the form of Nico Rosberg after he locked up both front tyres when trying to cut down the inside of Lewis Hamilton into turn two, which consequently meant an early pit stop. He came out at the back of the pack, and astonishingly managed to fight his way up to second and finish the race 52 laps later on the same set of tyres.

Mercedes have not only enjoyed success within the team this weekend, but have also extended their dominance over those who use the Mercedes power unit, such as Williams, McLaren, and Force India, with Lotus too seeking to adopt their engine for the 2015 season. It is the outstanding work of the engineers at their headquarters in Brackley to see five of the top six qualifiers, as well as the top five finishers at the Russian Grand Prix, all using the Mercedes engine. Their only real competitor this weekend came in the form of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who was only able to finish in sixth. Not a promising performance from the only driver to beat the Mercedes duo to a first place finish, with seven podium appearances, and three race wins this season.

Mercedes have not only enjoyed success within the team this weekend, but have also extended their dominance over those who use the Mercedes power unit.

This weekend also saw Hamilton match Nigel Mansell’s British record of 31 race wins, and duly secure the most race wins of the season, topping his total up to nine, and more importantly asserting his dominance over teammate Nico Rosberg, who has only achieved four. It is clear to see that when reliability ceases to be an issue Hamilton is the natural born winner of the two. Statistically, he is on form to win the World Championship for the second time, the first championship he won being back in 2008. Though be this as it may, with double points on offer at Abu Dhabi and reliability issues still at the back of everyone’s mind, anything could happen, and Hamilton’s title chances could be washed away, allowing Rosberg to secure his first ever Championship.

While it might seem unfair to premeditate a Mercedes driver’s claim to the world title, Hamilton’s dominance from start to finish, and Rosberg’s heroic fight from the back of the grid, has all but quashed Daniel Ricciardo’s slim hope for the Driver’s World Championship. Ricciardo, who remains 92 points behind title leader Hamilton, would need both Silver Arrows to finish outside the points in the last three races, and to match this unimaginable failure of performance, must also win each of these three races.

But with Williams’ Flying Finn, Valtteri Bottas, proving to be as capable as the two Mercedes’ with an astonishing last lap in qualifying which, until running wide at the last corner, looked good for pole position, and by setting the first fastest lap record at the Sochi street circuit, Ricciardo’s feat seems for the moment too far-fetched. Though there is no doubt that with teammate Vettel’s move to Ferrari next season, and Daniil Kvyat’s move from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, Ricciardo will be the team’s primary focus as a number one driver, disassembling any internal tension the team is currently facing, and ultimately placing Ricciardo at the forefront, with real title ambitions.

Button is for now struggling to find a seat for next year’s drive, and may well find himself watching from the luxuries of the BBC commentary box.

Changes to next year’s driver line up may appeal to some, though for McLaren’s Jenson Button, who finished a respectable fourth this weekend in a car that is not up to par with the rest of field, next year’s calendar may seem a little empty. After giving another downbeat post-race interview in Sochi, emulating that of Japan after finishing fifth, it might be possible to assume that he is feeling less than satisfactory within the team. Certainly with Alonso’s largely speculated move to McLaren, Button is for now struggling to find a seat for next year’s drive, and may well find himself watching from the luxuries of the BBC commentary box.

The Russian Grand Prix proved to be a great spectacle, though thoughts were dedicated still to Marussia’s Jules Bianchi who still remains in a critical, yet stable, condition from last week’s incident in Japan. Bernie Ecclestone stood with all the drivers, teams, and selected dignitaries for the Russian national anthem before the beginning of the race out of respect for the Frenchman. In addition to this, Marussia opted to run with only Max Chilton this weekend, leaving Bianchi’s car on stands in his part of the garage. Safety concerns have been rife since the incident, and have seen calls from Claire Williams for enclosed cockpits, and suggestions from the FIA for a virtual safety car.

Be assured that Hamilton and Rosberg will continue to dominate, and that the race in Austin, Texas, in three week’s time we will once again bear witness to the might of the Silver Arrows. However, safety will stand at the forefront of developments as the season draws to a close, and once the dust has settled after the pinnacle at Abu Dhabi, many new regulations are expected to be introduced ready for the start of the 2015 season.

James Gable

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One Comment
  • Anonymous
    14 October 2014 at 21:50
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    These F1 articles are consistently the best on impact. Easy to forget you are reading student-written content, doesn’t look too different from a BBC article #avidfan

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