What the teams said - Race day in Russia
All eyes were on how the strategy would play out today with both Mercedes drivers starting on different tyre compounds – but that was never a factor today. Hamilton was handed two five-second time penalties for pre-race practice start infringements after he asked the team to complete them further down, which they agreed to. Despite leading off the line and after the Safety Car restart, the penalty dropped Hamilton through the field from where he did well to recover to the podium. As for Bottas, jumping Verstappen at the start proved crucial and he then built a commanding lead once Hamilton had pitted. The Finn won comfortably for his second victory of the season, and grabbed the bonus point for fastest lap for good measure.
Lewis Hamilton, 3rd
"Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to all the fans who came out this weekend, I hope you enjoyed the race. It wasn't a great day for me, but it is what it is. We need to go through everything and understand exactly what went on to get those two penalties. That obviously dropped me back and the first stint on the Soft was also challenging, as I was trying to go as far as I could on that tyre. I think I did pretty well on the Soft and from then, it was about trying to recover as much as possible. It was just one of those days, but I'm grateful that I still managed to get a podium, bag some points and didn't lose as much as I could have done. Congratulations to Valtteri on the win, and I'll take the points and move forward."
Valtteri Bottas, 1st
"What a feeling! It's been a little while since my last win, but I knew there would be opportunities heading into the race and luckily things went my way this time. It was a bit tricky at the start because an insect hit my visor just as I was entering the braking zone, which meant I couldn't really see where to brake and so I went deep. But I knew it was going to be a long race and with the Medium tyre, there would be chances later on. Lewis then had his penalty, and once I was in clean air, the pace was really strong, and I was able to control everything without any real concerns. Now I need to keep this momentum up. There are quite a few races to go and you just never know, so I'll keep pushing, I won't give up and we'll see how it turns out in the end."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We've held onto our 100% winning record in Sochi and a one-three finish is a great result for the team, so we're very satisfied. On Valtteri's side, the win was long overdue and he drove a brilliant race. There were no mistakes, he managed the tyres well and controlled it to the very end, cruising across the finish line. On Lewis's side, it was a frustrating race. There is some room for interpretation with the practice start rules, so clearly, we need to analyse why we made the mistake and take the penalties on the chin. Like always, we win and lose together, never pointing the finger but instead trying to investigate what we can do better and how to improve. Clearly, we've had two incidents, here and in Monza, where we have made mistakes, and learning from these will only make us stronger in the long run. Nevertheless, we increased our Championship advantage with a strong result and now look ahead to the Nürburgring."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"Valtteri did an excellent job today and it was very nice to see him on the top step of the podium again. He had a good weekend overall and drove a strong race to finish it with a win. Lewis had a more difficult weekend. The issues already started yesterday when he had his first time in Q2 deleted and the session was red flagged when he was at the end of his second Q2 run. It ultimately meant that he had to qualify on the Soft tyre which put him on the wrong foot for the race. The challenge with that compound is they keep fairly consistent grip levels until you get down to the underlayer of the tyre - and then you suddenly lose a lot of grip. When we pitted Lewis there was very little rubber left on the rear left tyre and while it might have been able to do another lap or two, you just risk suddenly losing grip which would bring other people into your pit window. Lewis served his penalty when he pitted and after that it was all about trying to secure the maximum result. It was a difficult day for Lewis, but he still came away with reasonable points and still holds a commanding position in the Championship. We're now looking forward to going back to the Nürburgring in two weeks; there are a number of things we could have done better in Sochi this weekend and we'll try and put them right at the Eifel GP."
Verstappen lost a place at the start after running wide through Turn 2, but soon made that back up when Hamilton pitted. From there the Dutchman was comfortably ahead of one Mercedes but without the pace to chase down the other but conceding that second is a good result at a track where their rivals were clearly faster. Albon had a tougher race after a five-place grid drop for taking a new gearbox left him down the order. An early pit stop didn’t help matters but once again his car came alive under lower fuel and he was able to fight his way back to the points with some late overtakes.
Max Verstappen, 2nd
“We can be very happy with second place today, especially on a track where we know that we aren’t normally so competitive. It is a good amount of points for the Team and what we needed after the last few races. There was very low grip on the inside of the grid at the start, which cost us a bit and the first few corners were pretty interesting, but we stayed calm and I quickly moved past Daniel again. I struggled to follow the Mercedes cars on the medium tyre as I had a lot of oversteer but once I pitted on to the hard we were more competitive and I focused on my own race which we managed well. It’s good to be back on the podium and we can definitely be pleased to finish within eight seconds of Bottas on this track.”
Alex Albon, 10th
"Today was a lot of work for one point and it wasn’t an easy race. We struggled at the beginning to overtake and get through the pack on the hard tyre and so we lost a lot of time. When we swapped to the mediums it was a little better and we did as much as we could but it was difficult out there and a frustrating race. We were just in traffic the whole time without any clean air so we couldn’t put down any really good laps. After the gearbox penalty, today was about damage limitation and now I’m already focusing on Germany and having a cleaner weekend in two weeks’ time.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
"Second place is a fantastic result for Max today and once again he extracted everything he could out of the car with a quality drive. Second was the optimum we could have hoped for and Lewis’ penalty did help us out. It was a tough afternoon for Alex who started in 15th place following a grid penalty for a gearbox change. He lost ground on the opening lap but with the Safety Car we effectively had a free stop, only conceding one place as we changed Alex from the soft tyre to the hard which he was more comfortable on. He was then able to make progress through the field with some great overtaking moves. The Team once again made some fantastic pit stops and in six years of coming to Sochi this is our best result, with yesterday’s front row start and today’s second place so it is great to leave with a trophy.”
Stroll’s race was over at a very early stage through no fault of his own as he was hit from behind and was punted into the wall. That left Perez to fly the Racing Point colours which he did in style despite losing some places at the start. The Mexican dived past Ricciardo on the track in one of the moves of the day before jumping Ocon in the pit stops to regain fourth, which he held to the flag with ease. There is now just one point in it between the two team mates in what is looking like a season-long tussle for intra-team honours.
Sergio Perez, 4th
“It was a lonely race out there! We got the absolute maximum out of the car today and P4 was the best result we could achieve, so I’m very happy. The first stint was absolutely key. We knew the start would be difficult on the dirty side of the grid, but I was disappointed to lose two places to the Renaults off the line. I think we were very similar on pace to them, so the fact we were able to conserve the tyre so well in the opening stint and get back ahead of them was crucial – and we did a great job to execute that strategy. We can go into the next race on a real high, and I’m looking forward to getting the upgrade soon and aiming for more great results in the coming races. We have a strong car this year and I’m enjoying driving it.”
Lance Stroll, DNF
“I made a great start to the race and I was up to P7 by the time of the collision. Having had the free choice of tyres, by starting outside of the top 10, we were in a really good place to execute a strong race and score plenty of points. Sadly, it wasn’t to be because my right-rear tyre got hit by Leclerc on the opening lap. I’m very surprised that he didn’t get a penalty because I left him plenty of room and he could have avoided making contact by not going so wide on the exit. I was on the edge of the track and couldn’t have done more to avoid him, so I’m disappointed that a careless move cost us a potentially good result. What’s done is done, and I’m ready to focus on coming back stronger in Germany next time out.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“A perfectly executed race by Sergio and the team to convert fourth place on the grid into a race result. Despite dropping back behind the Renaults at the start, he battled back with a combination of overtakes and strategy to score 12 important points. A very strong weekend from start to finish. But it was a bittersweet race with Lance being taken out of the race on lap one - through no fault of his own - when Leclerc hit his right rear tyre. That spun Lance around and into the wall. It's a massive shame because he had made a superb start and was already up in P7 right behind Checo. Given the pace of the car, it’s frustrating that Lance couldn’t score the points he deserved today.”
Ricciardo made a great start but so did Ocon – and as the Aussie tangled with Verstappen, that allowed Ocon to sneak through and run in fourth in the early stages. Eventually the team let Ricciardo back through as he was the quicker of the two, but the Honey Badger locked up making the move, running wide and picking up a penalty for not rejoining the track correctly. Fortunately, he built enough of a lead for that not to matter, coming home in fifth while Ocon had to work hard to defend from Kvyat to keep hold of seventh.
Daniel Ricciardo, 5th
“I’m pleased with the result today and it’s a decent one for the team as well. I had a great start and got up to third in the first few corners before falling back to fifth. The race then changed on the hard tyres, we had good pace but obviously I made the mistake getting past Esteban into Turn 2 and had the time penalty. I locked the front brakes, so I take responsibility for that, but I was able to put that mistake right and recover well. Taking a step back, I’m pretty happy with my day, and the end result, as we take home some good points. The car is working well, and reliability is good, so everything has come together nicely for us.”
Esteban Ocon, 7th
“It’s a great team result, overall, so that’s good. When we put on the Hards, the car was not the same. It was a bit tricky to drive and I was struggling with grip and balance and I just wasn’t as happy as I was on the softs. I was almost following Max [Verstappen] on the softs at the beginning of the race, so that’s something for us to review there. Potentially, more points were possible, but we’re still happy with the result and how our race went. We know the car is quick and that’s good for future races. We’re going in the right direction; we’re catching the guys in front and that’s the target for the Constructors’ Championship. We’re getting there.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal
“The weekend has delivered a strong team result with 16 points added to the Constructors’ Championship. We felt since Friday morning that we could achieve that sort of position and it’s good to have done that. Obviously, you always want more, but the four cars that finished ahead of Daniel deserved to be where they are. We knew we would be under the threat of the cars starting outside the top ten and that’s exactly what happened with Leclerc and Kvyat. But Daniel was really impressive in building the required gap to Leclerc to absorb the five-second penalty from going deep into Turn 2 when we swapped the cars to mitigate the time lost behind Vettel. Esteban, on his side, struggled a bit more with grip at times during the race, but was remarkable in defending from Kvyat for more than 20 laps and contributed to the overall team achievement. We leave Sochi with 99 points after 10 races, which is more than what we scored last year over a 21-race season, which is a clear demonstration of the team’s progression, year on year. It’s also closer than ever to the two teams ahead and it’s going to be a very exciting fight with both of them to the end of the season.”
Leclerc was in the thick of the action at the start, tagging the back of Stroll’s Racing Point but escaping without damage. From there he did a long first stint to rise up through the field and make the strategy work in style as he came home in sixth, his best result since the 70th Anniversary race at Silverstone. Vettel had a harder time of it starting further back and despite some good wheel-to-wheel action, couldn’t scythe his way back through the field and came home outside the points once more.
Sebastian Vettel, 13th
"It was a bit of a boring race, as we didn’t have many options in terms of strategy. My start, from the dirty side of the track, was not ideal and so I couldn't benefit from other people’s crashes and collisions. After the Safety Car period I was a bit stuck and I struggled to stay close to the cars in front of me.
"In the middle part of the race the car was quicker than yesterday in quali but I struggled to make the tyres last, partly because following other cars did not help. I did the maximum today but I was just not quick enough."
Charles Leclerc, 6th
"It was tricky at the beginning, as I had a pretty poor start and lost a few positions by turn one, but then I regained them immediately and from then on the performance was very good. Our pace was not too bad at all today. We were quite strong in our first stint on medium tyres and we managed to go long on them also because I paid particular attention to tyre management today, after we had seen a lot of degradation on Friday in our race simulation. I worked on it and I am glad it worked out well.
"We maximised what we had today and that’s the most important thing. It’s a positive weekend for us and this also helps us mentally."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"To sum up the weekend, it was a step forward, at least compared to recent races, both in terms of the result and our performance level. Charles produced a solid drive to sixth, getting the most out of the package. He was aggressive after the start and then drove a very mature race for someone who is not yet 23.
"Sebastian was unable to get into the points, stuck in traffic in the key moments after the start. We brought a few small aero updates to Sochi: nothing radical in terms of performance but a step in the right direction for the development of the car. In a season when the gaps in the midfield are very close, it doesn’t take much to move up the order. We must continue moving forward like this, starting with the next round in a fortnight at the Nürburgring."
AlphaTauri split their strategies today, with Kvyat starting on the hard tyre to his team mate’s soft. It paid dividends for the Russian who was even running in the podium positions for a while, and when he finally stopped was able to emerge well clear of his team mate. Gasly was left frustrated, especially when a decision to bring him in a second time under the VSC backfired. The racing resumed quicker than the team had anticipated and he fell out of the points but undaunted, pulled off a couple of brilliant moves to climb back to ninth.
Pierre Gasly, 9th
“It wasn’t an easy race for us. I had a good start and was running in P7, but then we lost quite a lot of time in the middle part of the race when I was fighting with Alex and Kimi. We got overcut by Charles, but I was pretty fast and was trying to catch him. If the Virtual Safety Car period had been a bit longer, it would have certainly helped with a free stop, but it was shorter than expected so I paid for it a bit. However, I tried to recover as best as I could and was able to overtake a few cars. It’s a bit disappointing as the car felt great, we had good pace and I think we could have done more today.”
Daniil Kvyat, 8th
“I’m really happy with today, my home Grand Prix couldn’t have gone much better. It was a tough race, I always had to push to make the strategy work, but this is the kind of racing I like. When I saw Hamilton behind me and I was able to keep him behind for a couple of laps, I thought the pace in the race is amazing. I was confident this morning that we could have had a good race as I’m normally quite strong when it comes to Sundays. It’s just a shame I wasn’t able to force Ocon into a mistake, otherwise P7 was definitely on the table, we were quicker but it’s hard to overtake with these modern F1 cars. I’m happy with my driving and we got some good points for the team. The car is there, the pace is there, so we have to keep pushing for the rest of the season, hopefully we can gain a position in the Championship.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“Starting from P9 and P11 and finishing P8 and P9 is positive as we were able to progress in the race, however, we felt that our car pace was capable of more. Pre-race we predicted starting inside the top 10 on the Option compound would be a disadvantage, and we saw that for Pierre. He had to stop earlier than Daniil and he re-joined the race in traffic - at that time the tyres were good, but suddenly they hit a cliff. In hindsight, maybe stopping him a couple of laps earlier may have been an advantage, but in any case, I don’t think it would have changed the end result. Then it was a case for Pierre to fight through traffic and bring the car home. Near the end of the race there was a Virtual Safety Car, and at the time it was effectively a free stop for fresh tyres, but the VSC ended much quicker than expected so we didn’t make life easy for him, but he did a good job regaining those two positions. As for Daniil, the car showed fantastic pace, particularly on the first stint in free air where he was very quick. After we pitted him, he came out behind Ocon, but unfortunately, he was quicker in the last sector and we weren’t able to get close enough to pass. It’s good to get both cars in the points, although overall, we have the feeling we might have been able to achieve more. We’ve lost two points to P6 in the Championship and obviously, that’s the next target for us, so we will regroup and do everything we can to come back stronger in the next race.”
Franz Tost, Team Principal
“It was really nice to see that the grandstands were quite full here in Russia, so congratulations to the organizers as it’s pleasant to be racing in front of many F1 supporters. Our race was moderate because I think we could have achieved more today. At the start, Pierre had good pace and was in P7 for quite a long time, but then we pitted him a bit late which put him in traffic and at the end, he was only able to finish in ninth position. Daniil had a good start on the Base compound, which was a really good strategic decision. We brought him in for his pit stop on lap 31, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to make an overtake on Ocon toward the end of the race and finished P8. We will now focus on the German GP, hoping to take further steps forward.”
Raikkonen started the race meaning he now ties Rubens Barichello for the most F1 starts with 322. Formalities seen to, the Finn then made a long first stint work well and looked to be on for a good race until his one and only stop was slow, a sticky front left to blame as he dropped down the order. As for Giovinazzi, he kept his nose clean and steered clear of all the trouble to make his way up the pecking order and agonisingly close to the points.
Kimi Raikkonen, 14th
“The car was behaving well and we had good speed, but Sochi is a difficult place to pass and we couldn’t climb up into the points. Considering where we started the race, we probably got all we could from the race: even the slow stop didn’t change the end result too much. Antonio in P11 was just a few seconds ahead of me and I could have probably been around there, but in the end P10 was too far ahead. We showed we have speed during the race and that’s a positive for the next rounds.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 11th
“It was a positive race in which we achieved the maximum we could, especially starting from 17th. The start was really good, we once again made up a good few places, and I felt I could push and fight the cars around me. I was happy with our pace and for sure we closed the gap a bit more, so we need to continue like this. It’s always frustrating to finish just one place outside the points, but I am still happy with today’s result and with the confidence it gives us going forward.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“We had good speed today and both cars made considerable progress from our grid positions, so we can say that we got as much as we could out of today’s race. Yesterday’s difficult qualifying, where we didn’t get everything our speed would have warranted, always meant we would have our work cut out today, but to make up ground and leave behind several of our rivals shows we have found the performance we lacked earlier in the season. We need to keep moving in this direction to continue closing the gap within the midfield and keep fighting for top 10 finishes.”
Sainz ran wide through Turn 2 at the start and attempted to run around the bollards as instructed – only to misjudge the angle and catch the wall, ending his race at an early stage. That compromised his team mate to boot, with Norris forced to slow heavily and then run through the debris. An early pit stop offered him the chance to make a difficult strategy work but with a damaged car and ageing tyres, he dropped out of the points late on and was forced to pit again in a miserable day for the team.
Carlos Sainz, DNF
“First of all, apologies to the entire team. It was tricky to get a good start on the dirty side and by Turn 2 we were surrounded by other cars. I went too deep and left the track, so I decided to run over the sausage kerb and go around the bollards to avoid the penalty. It was a quick decision, the angle was very tight and I simply misjudged my speed. It was a pretty heavy impact but I’m fine, just disappointed for the team. Watching the replay of the start, other cars also left the track at Turn 2 but kept going and didn’t get the penalty, so I might as well have done the same. But anyway, it is what it is. We will reset and go again in Germany.”
Lando Norris, 15th
“It was an extremely tough race. My start was alright – nothing spectacular, but not bad. It was difficult on the right-hand side of the grid. I had a decent run down to Turn 2, but some guys just committed a lot more and I ended up having to back out. Anyone that committed just ran off the track and it was tricky to avoid them. Then there was the incident ahead that involved Carlos that I had to avoid. I think it damaged some bits on the car and made it a lot trickier to finish the race. We weren’t far away, but on a hard tyre, which we boxed for at the end of Lap 1, I just missed out a little bit. We need to improve for next time – it was very tricky to drive the car in the race on this track. We'll try again in Germany.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“It’s a very disappointing Sunday afternoon for us, coming away from Russia with zero points. Our race was pretty much over after two corners, with Carlos running into the barriers and then Lando having to take avoiding action, finishing up at the back of the field. We boxed Lando onto the Hard tyres at the end of the first lap, trying to go to the end of the race, which was still a sensible choice given the long life of that compound. Lando gave it his all, but without another Safety Car to mix things up, there wasn’t really anything he could do.
“The team – here at the track and back home – put in a lot of hard work, so it’s a tough one to take, especially with the great atmosphere in Sochi with fans finally back in the grandstands. We have to go away and reset, further understand the weaknesses of the car, work on updates and come back stronger two weeks from now at the Nürburgring.”
The Haas boys made the best starts of anyone in the field and missed all the chaos to make their way into the top 10. But neither could stay there as faster cars recovered, with Grosjean in particular struggling with the handling of his VF-20. The Frenchman had to pit twice as he tumbled down the field, while Magnussen just didn’t have the pace to fight for the top 10 when it mattered.
Romain Grosjean, 17th
“We managed to get through the first lap quite well, with both cars running up into the points, after that I was hanging in there. With all the problems we’ve had since Friday, with the car not being so good, sadly they appeared again today. Yesterday, on new tyres and low fuel, we could get away with it, but today it was a handful to drive. I could feel from the first few laps that there was something not right, I had no rear-end. I pushed with every tool I had onboard. Let’s hope we can analyse everything and be better for the next race.”
Kevin Magnussen, 12th
“We absolutely did the best we could today. On a day like this the team deserves points, we maximised the car completely. We weren’t quick enough at all to be up there - in and around the top 10, our pace should have been down the back. We were in the running for points for almost all the race, so it was a really good job from everyone. Even though there’s nothing really to celebrate I think we still can be really satisfied with the job we’ve done today and the progress we’re making, both operationally and on the set-up of the car.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It was a quite stressful afternoon. We started off after the restart in good positions, we tried to stay there, and for a while we achieved it. Obviously, we had some issues, because the car didn’t get any quicker overnight, but the guys kept up for a while pretty well. The troubles started when the virtual safety car came out. Kevin (Magnussen) lost quite a bit of time under there – he was then attacked by Giovinazzi, and Giovinazzi was successful. Romain (Grosjean) was not happy with his car, but I think that was broadcasted very well, so I don’t need to say more on that one.”
Russell had a poor day, with three trips to the pits for his pains. An early stop after the first lap chaos didn’t work as the Englishman flat-spotted a set of tyres that theoretically could have made it to the end. He lacked pace on the medium rubber and in the end dived back into the pits for the full compliment when he switched to softs. As for Latifi, he was handed a grid penalty for taking a new gearbox so always had his work cut out, and complained on the radio as he struggled with the car’s handling. A day to forget for the team.
George Russell, 18th
"It was a really tough day in the office with a lot of mistakes from my side. I was struggling with the tyres and couldn’t get them working. I have been struggling with the starts a lot this year and I needed to step it up in terms of my confidence, and that’s what I did. I made a really good start, but I was forced off as Turn 2 is so tight. It was three abreast, and three into one doesn’t go. We have a lot to review and some interesting things to take away from this weekend, but ultimately the points are scored on Sunday and we were not good enough today."
Nicholas Latifi, 16th
"The race itself was a difficult one to manage. We thought we were going to be more competitive, but we struggled a lot in the opening stint and then didn’t have the pace to come back once we had pitted. I think strategically we did a good job, we benefited from staying out and not pitting straight away. We need to analyse where we could have done better. Overall, I think I drove a good race, a few mistakes here and there, but something that I can learn from."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Following a successful day yesterday, today has been disappointing, including a pre-race gearbox change for Nicholas. At the race start, both drivers had decent launches, although George then lost out in the opening corners. Following the early safety car both struggled with the tyres and George in particular found it difficult to find a rhythm. We opted to pit George early and see if we could take the Prime to the end, but a flat-spot later in the stint meant another stop. In free air Nicholas had decent pace and was able to hold-off Grosjean at the end of the race.
"We had a tougher day today than we expected, but we can learn from what happened with the tyres and do a better job next time. The Nurburgring will offer quite a different prospect to Sochi and we look forward to returning to a track that we haven’t been to for some time."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"On a hot day in Sochi, with ambient temperatures in excess of 30 degrees, we saw a variety of strategies, as a result of bringing compounds that were a step softer than last year. In the past, Sochi has been mainly a one-stop race, and this was generally the case again but with all three compounds coming into play as part of the different strategies. Managing thermal degradation was key, especially on the soft, but we also saw some particularly long stints on the hard. Congratulations to Valtteri Bottas and also to Mercedes – which keeps up its unbeaten record at the Russian Grand Prix."