The streets of Sochi came alive with the sound of V6 turbo’s. A big crowd was on hand to witness Mercedes’ obvious switch the front leaving lewis Hamilton with one hand on the drivers title. But what else was there to discuss? Chris Fawcett has 5 talking points from Russia…with love.

A Happy Birthday Indeed

Where else can we start but Max Verstappen’s rise from 19th to 5th? The insane thing is, it could have even been so much more.

We’ve seen Lewis Hamilton make his way from the back on rare occasions as too Sebastian Vettel, so it’s no surprise that the best drivers can. What made Max’s effort stand out in particular is the rate in which he sliced through the field, he was 5th by the end of lap 8…on the soft compound, while all those around him were on grippier tyres.

Once he found some free space, his overall pace was consistent with the leaders pretty much and somehow he was managing the make the rubber last well beyond its expected life.

Every so often this man does something truly special; taking victory on his Red Bull debut or cruising around the outside of everyone in Brazil in the pouring rain. He is an enigma and no doubt a future World Champion IF Red Bull have gambled correctly.

Tired of the impact of Tyres

Adding to the last point, once Max Verstappen did eventually pit with 10 laps remaining, he was on what was theoretically a faster, gripper and more preferred compound (super soft). How was it that his times then dropped slower than they had been compared to 35 lap old softs?

It doesn’t make any sense at all, which means either Pirelli got it wrong with their assessment of the track and tyre suitability OR the millions of Dollars which are being poured into tyre development to heighten the excitement of the sport is going to waste?

FACT: The tyres did not do their job, if they did, we’d have had Birthday Boy on the podium at the very least…Pirelli are total party poopers.

Paul Di Pundit

I want to take the time to give praise to Paul Di Resta and his magnificent performance across the entire weekend for Sky TV viewers. 

Earlier in the week, I saw a short film highlighting the first ever grid walk of Martin Brundle back in 1997. It got me thinking that while we may look back fondly on Murray Walker being “the voice of F1”, we shouldn’t overlook Brundle’s contribution to the sport in a broadcasting sense. He’s 20+ years into it now and taking weekends off here and there. It wont be long before he commentates on his final race too.

Who should be brought in to replace him when that day comes? David Coulthard is a possibility, as too is the aforementioned Di Resta who looked a complete natural in front of the camera. It was noticeable how much respect the drivers gave him and the interplay between them made interviews far less awkward than some ex driver-turn pundits in the past.

While there may not be a seat for you in F1 Paul, you can grace my TV screen with a microphone whenever you want…also, my Mum adores you!

Paul Di Pundit – a class act

Better Racing = Good Thing

Last year, there was one on-track overtake in Russia…let that sink in for a moment. 

On the driver’s parade Lewis Hamilton was hoping the track would remain damp to give the crowd an exciting race, he was obviously expecting something similar to last year’s procession too.

It didn’t turn out that way of course with a certain Red Bull charging through the pack from the get go. 

F1 isn’t perfect but we’ve had seasons far less exciting than this and it should be celebrated. If Ross Brawn can get those proposals put through for simplified wings and aerodynamics we’re on to a winner looking forward.

The Wingman

Poor Valtteri Bottas, Russia is HIS track, he performed well there in a Williams and took his first ever victory there last year. He was well on course to do the same in 2018 until Toto pulled the plug.

As a fan, it’s not something you ever see and feel totally fine with, it’s a team sport after all. While it detracts away from the spectacle and the potential of a battle at the front…”Rules is rules”.

I’m not going to throw the toys out of the pram, nor am I going to applaud the decision – simply, I understand why it was done. It’s not a Mercedes or Lewis Hamilton thing. Replace any team and any driver and the result would be the same IF the man management was correct.

The brand of Mercedes is too big and reaches too many people to fall to a stupid mistake like a 4-point deficit which could have been prevented earlier in the year.

Expect future races to go exactly the same way, that is until Mercedes have secured the drivers championship for Lewis Hamilton.