Russian Grand Prix – Third and fourth in Russia
Seb on the podium, Kimi right behind in Sochi
Sochi, 30 September – Scuderia Ferrari ended the Russian GP in the positions from which they started, third for Seb Vettel and fourth for Kimi Raikkonen. Now it’s time to look ahead to the next Grand Prix, which takes place this coming weekend in Suzuka.
FILM OF THE RACE – Rain before the start caught everyone’s attention, as a few drops fell on the grid, while the sun still shone. The thermometer indicated that air temperature was 24 and the track was at 27.
The first four started on Ultrasoft tyres, with the SF71Hs both on the second row. Seb tucked into Hamilton’s slipstream, getting alongside at Turn 1, but he was unable to get past as they hit the braking area. Kimi was right behind. The pace settled down in the first stint prior to the pit stops.
Bottas came in early on lap 13. Ferrari reacted, bringing Sebastian in next time round for a set of yellow Softs. The number 5 car came out in clear air behind Valtteri. Seb gave it his all and when Hamilton, who had to cover the Ferrari move, came out of the pits, he found the red car ahead of him. The two men engaged in battle, but the Mercedes man managed to retake second place. The race director announced an investigation into Vettel’s first defensive move, but it was deemed that no offence had been committed.
All this left Kimi in the lead and he tried to get out ahead of Ricciardo. He pulled it off and everyone on track was now using the harder tyre. Both Ferraris posted fastest race laps. Verstappen was leading, but he had yet to pit and the others were lined up behind him.
On lap 25, Bottas slowed and let his team-mate through. Seb continued to force the pace, setting the fastest lap on lap 32, followed by Kimi. In terms of race pace, the Ferrari seemed more competitive than in qualifying. Raikkonen did what he had to fend off Verstappen, who only changed tyres in the closing stages. Seb was slowed by backmarkers and that’s how the race ended. “We tried,” said Vettel over the radio. And we’ll try again.
“Today the feeling with the car was very good and I was able to push, but I just wasn’t as fast as the others. Obviously, today it was better than yesterday in terms of pace, but it wasn’t enough to put pressure on our competitors. We tried everything and I am happy that we got a podium finish, but obviously this is not the result we were looking for. My start was good, but there wasn’t much track space for me and I could go nowhere. After pit stop we were able to overcome Lewis, but he could pull ahead more than us and at the end there was nothing to do. We lost some points during the two last races and it doesn’t help, but we have our plan to follow and hopefully we can make some progress in the races to come. Maybe the next couple of tracks are better suited for us, we will know when we get there. We need to keep pushing and try; who knows what will happen in the next races.”
“Not much happened in my race today, I was most of the time on my own. Unfortunately, this is what we kind of expected to happen. The feeling with the car was pretty good; with the first set of tires we suffered a bit with the front left, but then on the Softs the car was very nice to drive. Unfortunately yesterday in qualifying we were not fast enough and obviously today in the race it was very difficult to overtake.”
“Right from Friday, the Sochi weekend was rather a difficult one for us. Despite all our efforts to find the ideal set-up, neither on Saturday nor in the race were we competitive enough to worry our closest rivals. Compared to the way we performed at other circuits, something was missing here and so we were unable to reduce the points gap. On paper, the next race in Japan should have very similar characteristics to the one at Silverstone, so in Suzuka, we will get a more precise indication as to the potential of our car. If it goes well, we will know that, despite the difficult situation in terms of the classification, we still have the right tools with which to fight all the way to the very end.”