The winners and losers of the Russian Grand Prix

27-09-2021 18:00

The Russian Grand Prix is famed for being a snooze fest but as with so many of the normally boring races, this season threw up another cracker as Lewis Hamilton secured the victory in dramatic circumstances. As the rain teemed down dramatic late pit stops saw drivers changing positions all over the place but which of those drivers were winners and which were losers at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

Lewis Hamilton - Winner

We’ll get the obvious out of the way early doors. Lewis Hamilton is definitely a winner. Russia is often a formality for Mercedes but it was anything but that this weekend. Starting from fourth and underwhelming qualifying, he got a nightmare start and was at one point on the opening lap down in eighth. However, as he has done so often before he drew on all his experience to hang in there and keep himself in contention. And when it came to making the big call late in the day he made it, despite initially ignoring his team. The decision to pit was what gave Lewis the win and what cost Norris and those are the calls you make when your’e a seven time world champion, those fine margin, the extra experience. Not only did he win the race but he became the first driver to win 100 races. Formula 1’s first centurion, a remarkable achievement. 

Lando Norris - Loser

Now as harsh as this seems, and I thought Norris was magnificent, he was driver of the day. But this might be the biggest L of the week. To be so close yet finish down in seventh will hurt Norris, and it was his in-experience that cost him. In the heat of the moment he decided it was best to stick it out and go into survival mode, it didn’t pay off and it backfired emphatically. Norris will learn and come back stronger, deservedly driver of the day but at the same time, a loser at the Russian GP. 

Max Verstappen - Winner

Possibly the biggest winner of the weekend. Starting down in 20th to finish P2 is a superb result for Max. It was damage limitation when the decision was made to take the penalty, but when the opportunity arose in the dying stages of the race he took full advantage. Hamilton may have won the race but this will feel like a win for the Dutchman and the Red Bull team and he’s very much within striking distance of his title rival.

Valtteri Bottas - Loser

This one might be a bit harsh too considering he started down in 17th but his P5 finish doesn’t tell the full story. Mercedes made the call to give Bottas a new engine, maybe to be a blocker in front of Verstappen, but he barely put up a fight as the Dutchman flew past him. After that he was running down in P14 for most of the race. He got a bit lucky with the rain and that’s what saved his race. Any other day the result would have made Valterri Bottas a winner but given the situation, he’s one of our losers this week.

Carlos Sainz - Winner

Another under the radar performance from the Spaniard. He’s fitted in at Ferrari wonderfully this season and his stock continues to rise. Started P2 finished on the podium again, he stayed out of danger and was in the right place to secure a solid solid result for Ferrari. He goes about his business without any complaints, another great result for Sainz, he’s a winner. 

Pit crews - Loser

Slightly different one here, pit crews are a big loser and that’s largely because of a regulation change. Since Spa when the changes were introduced we’ve seen more and more longer pit stops and this has cost drivers big time. The rules basically increase the time between each action of a pit stop. Ricciardo had one when he was battling Hamilton, Perez had one and that cost him dearly a huge shock for Red Bull who are normally so reliable in that department. The changes have allowed for more human error and pit crews are still getting used to them. It’s different and it is making things very unpredictable. Pit crews won’t like it but they are losers this week. 

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