After the coma-inducing 2014 Russian Grand Prix, Sochi put on quite the show this year, with overtakes-a-plenty, surprises, penalties, and plenty of broken carbon fibre.
The result saw Mercedes crowned Constructors’ champions for the second consecutive year, although we had to wait quite a while to find this out, courtesy of a stewards’ inquiry surrounding the collision between Kimi Raikkonen and Valterri Bottas on the final lap, which has left their relationship on “Finn” ice.
Moving swiftly on – here’s our top five stories from the Russian GP!
After Carlos Sainz’s sickening crash in FP3 everyone couldn’t help but fear the worst, but when the young Spaniard gave two thumbs up – first on the ambulance’s stretcher, and later on Twitter – it was clear he was perfectly okay, despite getting lodged in the TecPro barrier.
He was so unhurt, in fact, that he was determined not to let a silly precautionary overnight stay in hospital prevent him from racing:
All ok! Nothing to worry about! Already thinking how to convince The doctors to Be on the grid for tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/81W1QFDo8q
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) October 10, 2015
As we know, Carlos got his way, and he lined up 20th on the grid.
Sadly, he experienced massive brake wear, and this led to his front-left brake exploding dramatically towards the end of the race, sending him into a spin. Maybe he didn’t see the cloud of brake dust, or maybe he thought he could manage with just three corners of stopping power, but later on in the lap he spun at the very same spot when he lost it in FP3, but this time just tagged the barrier with his rear wing.
This led to the ‘Brave Russian’ marshal darting across the track to pick up a rear wing end-plate, at an uncomfortable distance from Sebastian Vettel.
The point is, Sainz showed that petrol courses through his veins by refusing to sit this one out, which you have to admire really.
Bernie Ecclestone dropped some knowledge during David Coulthard’s grid walk; Pirelli will be supplying tyres to the F1 circus for another three years, taking their contract to the end of 2019, and staving off a bid from former rubber suppliers Michelin.
Perhaps in a jovial mood in lieu of the new deal, their bog standard baseball caps for podium finishers were replaced by Ushankas, which Hamilton, Vettel and Perez seemed to enjoy, although Vettel later commented that it made the country seem chillier than it actually is.
— BBCF1 (@bbcf1) October 11, 2015
With Texas on the horizon, we’ll be crossing our fingers doubly hard that those Italian tyre blokes get some more of those awesome cowboy hats that we saw at COTA in 2012!
With so little action in last year’s Russian Grand Prix, most people predicted more of the same in 2015, but those predictions proved dumbfounded with all kinds of mechanical mayhem throughout the race, making it an unpredictable afternoon on coast of the Black Sea.
Nico Hulkenberg spun and then got wiped out by Marcus Ericsson at the very first corner, Nico Rosberg’s throttle jammed open, Romain Grosjean slid off on the marbles at the troublesome Turn 3, and after two Safety Cars neutralised the field, it was well and truly on… although not for Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Kimi Raikkonen or Valterri Bottas, who also retired with a medley of suspension and brake issues.
Seeing a driver end his afternoon into a wall at 150mph is never a good thing, but since everyone was unhurt it’s fair to say that the retirements did shake the order up. Would Felipe Nasr have finished sixth? Would Jenson Button have finished ninth? Would Sergio Perez have finished on the podium? Arguably not.
The Russian Grand Prix was probably one of the most expensive ones of the year, with Sainz, Hulkenberg, Ericsson, Grosjean, Sainz (again) finding themselves picking up damage, and of course…
It was just about the last thing worth talking about that happened during the race. Two Flying Finns gunning for that final podium spot after deposing the unfortunate Sergio Perez, whose tyres had disintegrated after 41 laps of wear.
It looked like Bottas would add to his tally of podiums, keeping him a solid fifth in the championship standings, but the Iceman must have forgotten his skates, because he slithered hopelessly into the side of the Williams after a horrendously ambitious attempt at a pass. The Williams got flung into the barrier, and Kimi broke his front-left suspension.
If you ask me, it was a GP2-style lunge that made one of the sport’s longest-standing residents look like an amateur. He certainly didn’t agree with me, offering no apology after the race, but the stewards did and handed him a 30-second post-race penalty for causing a collision, which, along with losing himself eight points handed Mercedes the Constructors’ World Championship, by scoring exactly three points more than Ferrari which was required.
While it did make for a miserable evening for some, it certainly added to the excitement for others!
We already made Sergio Perez our TOP DOG for the race, but it’s hard not to smile at this story; when we put it into the Badgerometer, it made a Boris Johnson-style ‘ZOINK’ sound, so we couldn’t really argue with that.
It’s hard not to be im-Perez-sed with Formula 1’s resident Mexican this year. He seems to shine whenever his team-mate falters, and with Hulkenberg spinning and getting clouted by Max Verstappen and Ericsson at the start, Force India could do nothing put put all their eggs in Sergio’s basket.
Those eggs would manifest themselves as an aggressive tyre strategy, and after Grosjean’s huge off and subsequent Safety Car on Lap 12, the team brought him in for a set of prime tyres with the aim to run them until the end of the race; Lap 53. With half a century of laps on the board, Checo began slipping back towards the Finns – and if we’re staying with the egg analogy – his tyres were scrambled. Despite some decent defending he was powerless to stop both supplanting him on Lap 52.
The frustration must have been huge, much like in Canada last year when he was running third, but wiped out Felipe by Massa on the final lap. However, this year he did not end up in the wall with a Williams car, and instead drove back past the ailing Raikkonen to score only Force India’s third ever podium.
Last lap drama is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!