Following the tragic events of last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Formula 1 ventures to Russia this weekend under a cloud. Any thought that doesn’t lie with Jules Bianchi and his condition is secondary – this race, and for many, this championship, are no longer a priority.
This weekend’s race in Russia has been one that has been hotly debated for some time. When it was first announced, there was excitement: Russian drivers have been on the rise, Russia is a huge market that can be tapped into – why not hold a GP there? Following the political tensions that emerged in Spring and the MH17 disaster, though, there was a lot of pressure for the race not to go ahead in Sochi.
Ultimately, the paddock has arrived with very little fuss. This weekend’s race will go ahead as has been planned. For Bernie Ecclestone, this is a race some 30 years in the making. His push for a race behind the iron curtain in the ‘80s took him to Hungary, but he will now finally get his race in Russia.
Sochi will once again be buzzing with activity following the Winter Olympic Games back in February. The circuit itself is by no means the most inspiring layout, drawing early comparisons with the street circuit in Valencia used for the last incarnation of the European Grand Prix. However, the early signs are promising from Sochi, although we will wait until after the race weekend to make a definitive judgement.
The five talking points below are not worthy of their moniker this weekend. They are not “talking points” because there is only one person we are all thinking and talking about: Jules. None of these themes are overriding, nor do they, in the grand scheme of things, really matter.
2014 Russian Grand Prix – Talking Points
Lewis and Nico have just four to go
Following three consecutive wins, Lewis Hamilton has put the ball firmly back in his court with regards to this year’s world championship. He leads Nico Rosberg by 10 points after his win at Suzuka, and will know that a fourth straight victory could be huge. With just four races to go, the end of the championship is well and truly in sight.
Sebastian Vettel’s shock announcement in Japan has really shaken the driver market for 2015 up. He seems bound for Ferrari, supposedly following the formal arrival of new president Sergio Marchionne, but for the time being his future is still not 100% concrete. The man with more at risk is Fernando Alonso, who has been caught out by Vettel’s announcement. A move to McLaren is what he is angling for, but it is becoming a very complex web indeed – such is the F1 driver market.
Button and K-Mag fight for their futures
Assuming Alonso does move to McLaren, both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen are facing an uphill struggle to hold on to their seats. JB is the man more at risk because of his age, but his run to fifth in Japan showed that he is still one of the best around. Magnussen has been consistent if unspectacular this season, and will be hoping to get a second year with McLaren alongside Alonso if the Spaniard does indeed arrive.
100 years in the making
“Welcome to the first Russian Grand Prix” is not something you should hear this weekend. This is in fact the third Russian Grand Prix, with the first two being held in 1913 and 1914 in the last years of peace before the outbreak of World War One and the eventual seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Of course, things have changed quite a bit since then, but, as I will touch on in an article coming later today, it is nice to remember motorsport’s roots. One century on, grand prix racing is back in Russia.
Austin on the horizon
How is it already nearly time for the United States GP again!? Time flies when you’re having fun. We’re all off to Austin, Texas in three weeks’ time for the third grand prix to be held at the Circuit of The Americas, and excitement is building. The break between this weekend’s race and the event at COTA will give the drivers a much needed reprieve ahead of the final three rounds. The end of the 2014 F1 season is well and truly in sight.
Russian GP – Facts and Figures
Track: Sochi Autodrom
Lap Record: N/A
First Race: 2014
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T18 to T1); T11 to T12