Marussia remains ninth in constructors as Sauber fails to score in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI – Marussia F1 Team may not have been racing in Abu Dhabi yesterday, but it still had a reason to celebrate after securing its best-ever finish in the constructors’ championship thanks to Sauber’s failure to score any points once again.

The Anglo-Russian backmarkers scored its first ever points in Formula 1 at the Monaco Grand Prix back in May thanks to Jules Bianchi’s ninth place finish.

However, Marussia’s year hit a dark low when Bianchi was seriously injured in an accident at the Japanese Grand Prix in October, suffering severe head injuries. As per the latest update on Wednesday, Jules has returned home and is no longer in an artificial coma.

Following the Russian Grand Prix, Marussia’s financial struggles caused it to enter administration and miss the next two races in the United States and Brazil. Despite a last-ditch attempt to get the team back on the grid in Abu Dhabi, it was unable to attend the race.

However, Sauber could not use Marussia’s absence to its advantage as Esteban Gutierrez finished 15th in Abu Dhabi, one place ahead of Adrian Sutil. This marks the Swiss team’s worst season in F1 history, and means that Marussia remained ninth in the standings come the checkered flag.

Former driver Max Chilton and ex-President Graeme Lowdon tweeted their joy, congratulating the team on its best ever F1 finish.

It remains unclear whether or not Marussia will be entitled to any of the prize money that is awarded for finishing ninth, but this result will certainly give the operation a boost as it tries to put the pieces together so it can race again in 2015.

For Sauber, finishing P10 in the championship ahead of Caterham is something at the very least, but for a team with such a rich racing heritage, better results will be needed in 2015.

Lewis Hamilton aims to match Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record

Lewis Hamilton Schumacher record
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton has set many Formula One marks over the years, but few are as significant as the Michael Schumacher record he can match Sunday at the Russian Grand Prix.

Victory for Hamilton at the Sochi Olympic Park would see him draw level with Schumacher at 91 career victories, more than any other driver in the 70-year history of F1.

It also would increase Hamilton’s commanding 55-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship standings, putting him closer to a seventh world championship, matching another Schumacher record.

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History is on the side of Hamilton, who won Sept. 13 at Mugello. He’s won four of the six Russian races so far, and all six were won by Mercedes drivers. His closest challenger is likely to be Bottas, who beat Hamilton in the 2017 edition of the Russian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere in the championship hunt, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s season has gone up in smoke since his Aug. 9 victory at Silverstone. An overheating engine forced the Dutch driver out of the Sept. 6 race at Monza and then a similar problem struck just before the start at Mugello. Verstappen was far slower off the line than the cars around him and was struck by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

That leaves Verstappen 80 points off Hamilton in the standings and a 25-point deficit to Bottas.

If Hamilton does win to tie Schumachher at Sochi, more fans will see it in person than any other race in a 2020 season mostly run before empty grandstands because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Organizers say the race weekend is sold out but haven’t given final ticket sales figures.

Race promoter Alexei Titov previously told Russian state TV that the stands would be at 50 percent of their capacity, which equates to around 30,000 spectators.

That’s far more than the previous season high of 3,000 fans for the most recent race, the Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit.

Unlike at the last two races in Italy, there will be a full entertainment program on offer for fans with concerts featuring some of Russia’s most popular musicians.

Russian organizers say they’re taking precautions to keep fans safe and will have medical staff posted at checkpoints around the venue, and that spectators will have their temperature measured on entry.