Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Sochi Autodrom, 2014

Sport and politics collide amid dreary Russian race

2014 Russian Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Coming so soon after the harrowing events of Suzuka, Russia’s first Grand Prix was always going to be an emotionally charged event.

While 21 cars assembled on the grid the 22nd, belonging to Jules Bianchi, sat in the Marussia garage, waiting for the driver whose recovery from injury remains the dearest hope of the entire F1 community.

Before the race began, the drivers assembled in silence as a mark of respect for him.

Rosberg slips up

Start, Sochi Autodrom, 2014If motor racing can serve any useful purpose in such difficult times like these, it is as an entertaining distraction. And for the first few laps it seemed the Russian Grand Prix might just do it.

The Mercedes drivers led away from their customary front-row positions, and as they reached the first braking zone Nico Rosberg seized his best chance to stop his team mate from winning a fourth consecutive race.

Rosberg aimed for the inside of the corner and tried to out-brake F1’s latest of late-brakers. “It was definitely do-able,” he said afterwards, “I just messed up – just braked too late and too hard.”

This was no exaggeration. The Mercedes smoked its front tyres spectacularly and Rosberg made for a run-off area which had been well-used by drivers in the support races.

He rejoined ahead of Hamilton, and his engineer was quick to point out he would not be allowed to keep that advantage. But Rosberg had bigger problems. “I have to box because of vibrations,” he said, and sure enough he ended the first lap in the pits having his flat-spotted softs replaced with a set of mediums.

The Toro Rossos fall back

Daniil Kvyat, Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Sochi Autodrom, 2014Valtteri Bottas took up second behind Hamilton, followed by Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, the latter having made another excellent start.

But Jean-Eric Vergne’s had been even better, fending off attacks from Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen, the latter taking to the Sochi Autodrom’s generous complement of run-off areas more than once as he tried to get ahead.

From a crowd-pleasing fifth on the grid, Daniil Kvyat was shuffled back to eighth, after which Daniel Ricciardo knocked him down another spot. Both Toro Rosso drivers were struggling to recapture their qualifying pace, and despite Vergne’s best efforts he was soon passed by Magnussen and then the two Red Bulls.

But Vergne drew the line at being passed by his team mate, and as the pair went toe-to-toe at turn one it allowed Kimi Raikkonen to capitalise and take a place off Kvyat.

The new Valencia

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Sochi Autodrom, 2014And that was it. Once the field settled into an order it remained largely undisrupted. Rosberg patiently picked off the slower cars and once he reached the midfield those in front of him – like the two Force India drivers – were advised not to waste their time trying to resist a car which was inevitably going to get past one way or another.

Like Valencia before it, the Sochi Autodrom has all the disadvantages of a street circuit and none of the benefits. Turn three aside, the layout is largely composed of uninteresting and repetitive slow corners. But its pristine surface is largely devoid of the bumps, gradient and camber that make true street courses challenging.

It didn’t help matters that the stop-start layout proved highly demanding in terms of fuel consumption, yet the smooth asphalt asked little of Pirelli’s somewhat conservative tyre selection. For many drivers this was a case of ‘list and coast’ driving either side of a single pit stop.

Rosberg’s first-lap mishap and Massa’s misfortune in qualifying served to further diminish the competition at the front. Massa tried to follow Rosberg’s path through the field, but doing so on soft tyres without the assistance of the Safety Car proved too much to ask. A second pit stop ensured he finished the day out of the points.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2014Rosberg, meanwhile, was elevated to third place when the remaining drivers made their pit stops, and took second place off Bottas as the Williams driver struggled to get his medium compound tyres up to temperature.

Though some of Rosberg’s rivals – such as Button – doubted he could make a single set of mediums last for all bar one of the race’s 53 laps, by managing his pace he made it to the end without reaching the dreaded ‘cliff’. Although Bottas set the fastest lap of the race as he gave chase, Rosberg set his own fastest time on the penultimate tour.

Alonso’s single pit stop appeared to be one too many for his pit crew, who fumbled his front-left tyre change, then further delayed their driver when a mechanic inexplicably stepped in his path with a jack. That ensured he finished behind the McLarens.

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The Putin show

When confronted with questions about the ethics or politics of racing in certain countries – be they Bahrain, Russia or wherever – Formula One team representatives have dutifully stuck to the same ‘F1 doesn’t do politics line’ which Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt fall back on.

The idea that a sport with Formula One’s global reach, where the majority of rounds area subsidised to some extent by national or local governments, can exist in a political vacuum, is patently absurd. It is cynicism with a facade of naivety, and during FOM’s coverage of the Russian Grand Prix the mask slipped.

You couldn’t complain that the television director cut away from a thrilling moment of racing action during the Russian Grand Prix – because there were none – yet the switch of focus from sport to politics when Vladimir Putin arrived could not have been less subtle.

The repeated shots of Russia’s controversial president left no one in doubt who the Russian Grand Prix was for the benefit of. This was personality cult propaganda.

Triumph tinged with sadness

The race petered out to an anticlimax long before the chequered flag brought proceedings to a close. Hamilton’s ninth win of the season ensured he will end the season with more wins than anyone else, but his championship situation is a long way from being secure.

“I remember 2007 very well,” said Hamilton when reminded of how the title slipped through his fingers during his rookie season, and asked if he was afraid the same might happen again.

“I wasn’t afraid then either but I guess I was perhaps less experienced,” he said. “I’m a completely different man today so I’m looking forward to the races coming up.”

Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff, Niki Lauda with Jules Bianchi's number, Mercedes, 2014The drivers’ title may be far from settled, but the constructors’ championship has been decided. Mercedes’ W05 has been the class of the season all year long, and only occasional reliability problems kept them from clinching the title sooner.

Amid the sheer tedium of the race and the depressing cynicism of the politics, Mercedes had the class to put the focus back where it belonged. The constructors’ championship marked the culmination of five years’ work since they took over the Brawn team, but even in their moment of triumph they acknowledged it was tinged with sadness.

“This is a great moment for our team but, first of all, we must not forget what happened last week,” said the team’s motorsport director Toto Wolff.

“While we celebrate a hard-earned achievement today, we will not forget what happened to Jules in Suzuka and we will not forget the battle he is fighting at the moment.”

Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

124 comments on “Sport and politics collide amid dreary Russian race”

  1. One uneventfull race. But maybe that’s what F1 just needed after Suzuka!
    It does remind us to be thankfull for the work Pirelli does. Tyres that are too good
    results in boring races, and we ain’t used to it anymore.

    I do look forward to drive on it in F12014 later this week, as it looks like a fun track
    to drive!

    Hamilton really needs to take the title, 9victories vs 4 for Rosberg.
    It looks like after Spa, Rosberg’s championship has gone downhill.
    Let us pray for Jules yes, but also for an untainted championship because of AbuDouble

    1. I wouldn’t blame the tires alone. Austin in 2012 was also a 1 stopper with long lasting tires but turned out to be a good race.
      The track characteristics simply amplified the gaps between the various teams and stretched the field – so there was no chance for a close race either way.

    2. Ryan Fairweather
      13th October 2014, 11:02

      This is when Bernie’s most wins in the season idea makes the most sense. What is worth more? Consistency over a season or outright speed to win the most races?

      1. We could even see a win difference of 11 to 4 and still Rosberg winning by coming second in Abu Dhabi. That has to be a nightmare scenario for Formula 1, double points will look utterly farcical and turn the sport into a joke category with pointles gimmicks deciding championships in one race after a whole season. You just can’t turn those figures round and say they somehow represent the best driver over the season, even remotely. And will Rosberg seriously want to win in that situation? All the vitriol he received mid-season, after Spa, will just multiple if that happens, surely.

        1. Doubtful. If hammy is losing in AbuDouble don’t be shocked to see Hammy run into the side of Rosberg or make a very very sloppy pass resulting in retirement of himself or sending Rosberg out of the running.

  2. Just a note on Alonso’s pit stop. I noticed during the replay that the reason the front left was slow going on was because the front Jackman dropped the car before they’d even got the old tyre off! Then compounded the slow stop by inexplicably running back in to Alonso’s path as he went to leave the pit box. Very unusual stop all round.

    1. The front jack failed, which was why the car dropped before it should have been, the mistake came when the man on jack that had failed didn’t get out of the way straight away and allowed the back up jack to take over, it failed again on the second time but this time is failed late enough for the tyre to be fitted to early enough for the back up to think he needed to get involved. It was a complete mess for Ferrari, which sort of sums up their 2014 campaign.

  3. Poor race, but I’m blaming the tires more than the circuit. The GP2 race was interesting, so I think Pirelli should have gone for the super softs instead. Also, the championship is pretty much Lewis’ to lose now. If he manages to win the next two races (and there’s no reason why he wouldn’t, bar unreliability), he could come in second at Abu Double and still get the WDC. At this point, it’s a matter of keeping focus during qualifying and the W05 not failing him when he needs it the most.

    1. Mr win or lose
      12th October 2014, 23:19

      I don’t think soft and supersoft would have made a big difference. Yes, the race was boring, but I don’t think it’s a good sign that races can only be interesting when the tyres fall apart after ten or so laps. The tyres were good, but the real problem was the mandatory pitstop.

      1. The real problem was fuel saving imo. It’s just not racing. If I want to watch someone lift and coast, I’ll watch my mother drive.

        1. Although it played a larger part than normal in this race, it certainly wasn’t as big a deal (IMHO) as you are making out.

          The circuit was heavy on fuel. But the only major effect I saw was Perez being told how close he was, and having to give up a place so as not to run out. This (I think) was more down to their strategy not playing out: They started on mediums, Perez had to push harder at the start to keep up, then didn’t have enough fuel left to exploit the softs.

          Then again, I was not concentrating as hard on what was going on because it was such a boring race. I even started to drift off at one point.

      2. Have to disagree here, the tyres were the wrong choice in my opinion, the only reason they were brought was simply because the super soft couldn’t handle turn 3, If the tyres had been the softs and super softs I think the result would have been alot different. There would be no way Rosberg would have been able to pit just once, he would of have to of pitted twice, which would have been the right penalty for such a silly mistake. I also think that Williams would have been alot closer to the Mercs in race pace on the SS, as Merc have shown in the season that although they are mighty fast on the SS however they burn that compound up faster than anybody else. Pirelli need to work on SS next year, because next years Russian GP can’t be as boring as this one, even though as a Hamilton fan the result was good, I much prefer it when Lewis has to battle or get his elbows out. I just hope next season it’s with somebody who has the same level of race craft.

        Other than that the whole GP was a complete joke for me, as soon as I saw Putin’s face appear on my TV with a grinning Bernie at his side making sure all the drivers towed the/his line. I’m sure the $50 million a year will please the bottom line, however the political message that was sent out around the world will do nothing but hurt it.

    2. i know it will be a logistical nightmare, but wouldn’t it be really cool if each driver and team were free to choose the tyre compound?

      1. it used to be like this ^

      2. What are you thinking, @matiascasali? Two sets of each tyre type for qualifying and race- with conpulsory “must use at least two types” in the race might throw up some interesting scenarios.

        1. Personally, I would say: Pirelli bring all compounds to the race, the teams one set of each on FP1, then choose 2 compounds for the rest of the weekend.

          No forcing of 2 different types in the race.

          For example, this could allow one team to run the super softs only and make 3 stops, and another the hards only with no stops.

        2. i was thinking: you’ve got to use TWO compunds, but you choose wich one! if you want to use, say, super softs, and then, mediums, then be it, as long as you use TWO compunds as @mike-e said, it used to be like this before

  4. The first race where fuel concerns proved truly detrimental to the racing. Again, Sebastian Vettel was the most notable example: he should have been able to close on Ricciardo with fresher tyres, but was restricted by the necessity for lift and coast.

    I hope it is less of a problem next year.

    1. as for the fuel, i don’t think it was a big issue in most of the races, as everyone thought it will be before the season started, maybe they should gamble less and put more fuel to the car (i’m quite sure that if the cars were filled up to the 100kg, the lift and coast wouldn’t be a problem at all at least not in this god-awful circuit!)

    2. Newer tyres for vettel = -0.5 seconds per lap.
      Better driving skill from Ricciardo = -0.5 seconds per lap.

      See, it evened itself out @vettel1 :-)

  5. So what do I think of this track?

    T1 and T11,12 aren’t really corners so I’ll miss them out

    T2 – Horrible corner. Before any racing I thought it would be fine, but boy oh boy does that stupid kink and copious amount of run-off make it awful.
    T3 – I love this corner, it is completely unique and it was quite a spectacle watching cars driving close to, and occasionally wheel to wheel with each other through here.
    T4 – Boring, but helped by the cars coming off the excellent T3. Run-off ridiculous again. Functional but could be better
    T5 – Very boring, not necessary to be like this. Track could have followed a much curvier route then what it does.
    T6,7,8,9 – Quite like these. They are relatively fast and they look quite challenging to get right. Yes they could have had a more open radius, but I like them.
    T10 – Boring but functional. Didn’t really seem to help with overtaking though which surprised me. Again as with T5, could have taken a much smoother approach onto the straight which would have been much better.
    T13,14 – I really like this complex. T13 on its own would be very boring, but coupled with a relatively open, quite tricky T14, it works quite well.
    T15,16,17,18 – Awful section of corners, completely unnecessary. T15-16 could easily have been a sweeping, quick and long left-right chicane, and T17 could have been more open, leading the track onto a very tricky T18. But instead we have these ridiculous not needed 90 corners.

    This is how I would have done it:
    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6460712

    Overall, S1 = 7/10
    S2 = 7/10
    S3 = 1/10
    Overall = 5/10
    (I include T13,14 in S2)

    1. Thoughts on the race.

      I think Pirelli were unlucky in their tyre choice. Based on previous experience going ‘conservative’ was probably wise, but it definitely did no favours for the race. Had there not been a need to save fuel it could have been a bit better, but probably not by much. I voted the race a 3. I think maybe that was probably harsh, and a 4 would have been more just, but I usually base my ratings on how they compare for the season, not all time, so I think 3 for the season was maybe okay. It would probably have been a 5 if I based it on every race ever (that I’ve seen). Not great though, I think it was the dullest of the season so far, though it’s close between Malaysia and China.

      I liked the use of the CGI to show messages of support to Jules, that was a nice touch, and you could really see the camaraderie of the entire paddock in wishing him well.
      I think it was also a shame about how politics was seemingly involved. Usually going to a contentious venue isn’t too bad, but here it did seemed to be a bit shoved down our throats, with the constant shots of Putin, as well as his inclusion in the awkward room of awkwardness after the race.

    2. I really like your design, @philereid.

    3. Michael Brown (@)
      13th October 2014, 1:40

      Originally turn 4 was going to be a kink, so I like how you converted turn 4 into a flat right hander with nearly the same radius as turn 3. Those two corners together would have been an amazing combination.

  6. Double points are a good start. I propose 100x points for Melbourne, Monaco, Monza, Spa, Suzuka and Montreal. This way we could just skip the Tilkedroms on the calendar.

  7. Well said, Keith!

    1. +1 on the Putin show…. and how come he got to do a meet and greet in the room preparing for the podium ???

  8. Mr win or lose
    12th October 2014, 23:13

    “Rosberg patiently picked off the slower cars and once he reached the midfield those in front of him – like the two Force India drivers – were advised not to waste their time trying to resist a car which was inevitably going to get past one way or another.”

    Force India probably very badly wanted Rosberg to finish ahead of the McLarens to minimize the pain in the constructor’s championship. It did work, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

    1. Good point.

  9. It was a very dull race. I did not like the track. It did not seem to have any flow to it. One thing I noticed was that there is hardly any grandstand near the track, except for the start/finish straight. Somthing I have not overtly noticed before.

    With regards to Torro Rosso and Kvyat. I mentioned yesterday that I thought they might gave gone for a qualifying set-up, as a crowd pleaser, for kvyat. It was too much of a coincidence that they suddenly had the pace to qualify 5th, with a russian driver and the first russian GP. It made sense from a marketing “Red Bull” perspective. Whatever the reason, I thought they had gone down that route.

    I then got accused of being a conspiracy theorist and being overly negative against Kvyat.

    So, I waited to see if they fell back during the race. Low and behold, they did. Coulthard even suspected they had gone for a qualifying set-up!

  10. The Putin show was great

    1. Putin on the Ritz :)

    2. I’m sure I saw steven seagal in amongst Putin’s entourage…

      1. He was there! He’s officially supporting Putin and his actions. Has done concerts for him etc.

  11. Shame what happen whith politics here. Ecclestone and his partners are liars and hypocrites. They are worthless.
    Anyway, great race by Hamilton and congratulations to Mercedes.
    And last but not least, Forza Jules!

    1. What is wrong with president of host nation showing up after all Putin is big racing fan. And they showed him for 30s on TV, so what?

      1. Considering the current situation with Russia and Ukraine including Putin’s openly anti-gay comments, it was bad taste to make the show all about him. Will Obama be there to meet the drivers at the end of the race in Austin? Did the camera constantly cut to Bernie sat next to David Cameron at Silversone? Have any of the GPs so far demanded silence during their national anthem before the race? No. Of course they didn’t.

      2. I really, really, really did not tune in to watch the Socchi race to see Putin and Ecclestone and a few more select dictators chumming up trackside. Just show the race, however awful, or some paint drying. Otherwise it’s just political propaganda.

  12. Interesting. I pointed out the excessive focus on Puttin on a different website and was told I was exaggerating. Kind of sad to see it wasn’t just me.

  13. @keithcollantine A suggestion, call it constructive criticism if you like. Wouldn’t be better to have “Putin show” and the politics aspect in a separate “Comment” article?

    It just seems better to have the race review be about the race itself and deal at length about the politics in another piece so that we give our own opinion in the comments section as well.

    1. @mantresx – If the broadcast had not repeatedly cut away from the less than thrilling race to show Putin many more times than once, your point might be more valid.
      Merely my opinion, your mileage may vary.

    2. It was ‘The Putin show’ though… No one who watched the race will remember anything else about it.

      1. The Blade Runner (@)
        13th October 2014, 12:10

        There was an interesting “karma” about the National Anthem thing though.

        After making such a fuss about the Russian national anthem prior to the race, post-race Putin found himself stood on the podium whilst both the British and German national anthems were played. Bottas, a Finn, was up there too (if you’re unaware of Russia’s turbulent relationship with Finland I suggest you Google it).

    3. Hm, well I don’t see the point of that @mantresx when the putin show was an integral part of the whole broadcast.

      It started with overshadowing that minute of silence for Bianchi by making it appear as if it had been to have all drivers stand to attention for the Russian anthem (see what @girts mentioned about what was shown on Russian TV), and the numerous shots of chums Bernie and Putin, then the awkward scene before the podium and Putin behing the one to hand out ALL the trophies.
      All of that make it all too obvious and ignoring it in a review of the raceday would come over as omitting something (like it would be if Keith hadn’t mentioned Bianchi for example)

    4. @mantresx That’s a reasonable suggestion but when one of the points of the article is that trying to separate F1 and politics is impossible, you can see why I wrote it the way I did.

      1. Oh thanks that makes more sense now, although it’s risky. Someone unfamiliar with the site might even get an anti-Putin vibe even though you probably didn’t mean it.

        Maybe because where I live there’s a rather neutral opinion about him (unlike in the UK or America) I realised that, but who knows.

        1. @mantresx
          I found it peculiar that even the Guardian, which usually doesn’t skip on a chance to write something negative about Russia or Putin, avoided mixing poilitics into it, yet Keith couldn’t.

      2. The President of the Russian Federation appears on camera for 30’s at the first event of the RUSSIAN GP and out pops the Russo-phobia.

        The dictatorships of UAE and Bahrain have been accused by several countries of not just supporting ISIS but arming them, that’s right when you lot were fawning over the Bahrain G.P., It’s dictator murderer of his own people was arming ISIS to the teeth. Let’s hope the UAE allows other faiths in the future.

        Why wasn’t the Silverstone cancelled in 2003-2011? after all the U.K govt. Illegally invaded and occupied Iraq against U.N resolutions.

        Lets hope the U.S G.P gets the same treatment, after-all it’s the U.S govt. that Illegally bombs villages in Pakistan with drones, that has left several hundred civilians maimed and murdered.

        Take off them Blinkered glasses HYPOCRITES stop the Russo-phobia..

        1. @c4vtr I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks like you. US and UK keep bombing all over the world for the last 20-30 years, for no valid reasons at all, and no one bats an eye. Russia enters into conflict on its own borders for the first time since the brakeup of USSR and everyone starts calling them murderers, dictators and what not. People don’t remember it was US gov and CIA who kept training Al Kaida back in the 90s when there was civil war in the former USSR republic. The same one who later turned out to be the biggest terrorist according to US. I guess it’s only terrorism if it’s aimed against US.

      3. @keithcollantine

        “The repeated shots of Russia’s controversial president left no one in doubt who the Russian Grand Prix was for the benefit of. This was personality cult propaganda.” <—

        i think that comment is way over the top.

        Frankly, if the US president were there (eg. The US gp for example, ) he would've got the same treatment with coverage, like the Monaco GP prince for example – im sure he has had some TV coverage in the past. I'm pretty sure Putin, however much "selected biased individuals" don't like him, has better things to do, than to make a huge effort to be there and present the trophies. If there is a political agenda, it is to show to the world that Russian people are no different to any other people. They like to have fun, and they recognise and respect quality and seem to like to become more active and engaging in international events. The only difference is that Russian people like to have their own opinion and their own rules un-controlled by the west. Twist it, like the best spin-doctors do, as much as you want; not gonna help you.

        My suggestion to Russian "haters" (and im not saying you are – only you know that) is, learn to like them; Or suffer your own grudges and consequences in that sense. Because, im pretty sure they aren't going anywhere.

        1. @maksutov If you’re saying my criticism is purely down to simple-minded ‘hate’ of a nation of 140 million people, then I’m disappointed in your low estimation of my character. Suffice it to say, as I explained before the race, it’s not.

          1. @keithcollantine

            Fair enough. Didn’t mean any disrespect, and on that note, do not posses any low estimation of your character.

            Maybe I was a bit over-sensitive there. It just seems there is always the tendency to bash up the Russian people by default, when we all know that the issues behind politics (albeit completely different topic) are far more complex than what is portrayed to be; not to mention there are many critical issue behind the scenes that are never spoken or covered by the western media. The truth is somewhere in between. As for Putin, controversial or not, he is the President and widely accepted from what it seems at the moment. To say or indicate otherwise could be considered, or maybe “is” considered, propaganda in itself. Again, the meaning of that phrase and its identification is all relative to the observational frame of reference.

            To me personally, what I saw in this GP was positive (whether that was with this president or any other future Russian president), and I hope to see more of it. With any luck, maybe some Russian billionares (and there are “many” of them) will invest and buy an F1 team! Better for us.

          2. @maksutov – For what it is worth, I have been to somewhere over a dozen countries in different parts of the world and have yet to meet citizens of any country that I do not like or relate to. Can’t say the same about the politicians though. That holds true for my own native country as well.

  14. And how great was the Bathurst 1000. 161 laps of racing, 8 hours of watching (and falling a sleep) and thrilling last 10 laps.
    Amazing stuff!
    F1?
    Didn’t watch it because of the location (politics) and judging from all the negative comments, didn’t miss a lot.

    1. I have never seen a more enthralling motorsports race in my entire life than this weekends Bathurst, more exciting than the entire F1 season combined just about.

    2. Yea even with the race suspension.

    3. I missed it this year – pity.
      How often did they cut away to show Tony?
      Did they play Advance Australia Fair during the Peter Brock remembrance?

      1. Ayrtonfan (@)
        13th October 2014, 12:36

        @ColdFly F1

        Yes they cut to Tony quite a bit mate- last I saw he was at the top of the mountain doing XXXX shotguns with the Holden die hards :)

  15. Sochi Autodrom is more Valencia and Mokpo than Singapore or Monaco. I would guess racing cars have run past the tarmac they used just as much as road vehicles. There aren’t any road markings or bumps from wear and tear. It’s a shame, because I would rate it as potentially more interesting than Singapore due to its higher speed averages. As such it’s more of a road circuit that happens to be around fancy buildings, rather than a true street circuit.

    But yeah that race was boring. Can’t remember a race this year with such a lack of overtaking, truly all the factors combined to make it dull: track, surface, tires, DRS ineffectiveness.

  16. Michael Brown (@)
    13th October 2014, 1:37

    Even Rosberg’s drive back through the field was a bore. It doesn’t matter if the Mercedes is set back, it’s so stupidly fast it gets back to the top by the end of the race.

  17. Got to blame the stupid cameraman. The moment that exemplifies this best was when Bottas and Rosberg were stuck behind Vettel, and then Vettel peeled into the pits. We could clearly see that Rosberg was right at the tail of Bottas at that point…but what does the TV director choose to do? He chooses to go with Vettel. Shows us the WHOLE DAMN STOP! We missed seeing the battle for P2 from the last corner and all along the main straight live due to this. Just one example of the most terrible TV director in recent times.

    1. Yes, better camera work / directing to at least show what was going on would have certainly helped a bit. Not sure it would have made it good, but less tedious for certain

      1. @bascb I also think that was part of the race not showing it’s full potential. It’s a shame because it could’ve been so much better. I also never expected everyone would be so offended by Putin his presence.

        1. Well, maybe if his presence wouldn’t have been so obviously shown during the race and highlighted with the procedures after the race, there would have been less reason to feel that way (especially combined with the mantra of “F1 shouldn’t be mixed with politics”) @xtwl.

    2. What happened to inset video of pitstops in the corner of the screen? (not those useless side-by-side views Sky do where both pictures are shrunk too small to see anything)
      Director probably forgot he was covering a race – had to get all his long, lingering shots in (Emirates sign, ice hockey building, Pirelli bridge, Bernie, the beach, Putin, ugly building that hosted curling or something, a load of Rolex, Putin again, some flags, Putin, Bernie and Putin, the pitwall with nothing happening, Emirates bridge, Putin and Bernie, you get the idea)

  18. yeah.. definitely one of the worst grand prix of the season thus far – from a fan perspective anyway.

    I think the track looks interesting, but was probably hampered by conservative tyre selection and the maddening fuel regulations.

    1. @nothingreal
      Fule limit played the largest role IMHO. If they didn’t coast to save fuel and were attacking all the time, then the tyres would degrate quicker too, like what we’ve seen in qualy, when Botas’ tyres gave up in the last sector. I really enjoyed the GP2 races and while I agree the F1 race was dreary, I think it’s not that much the track itself but the difference in cars and the fact they all had to save fuel. So our initial concerns about this fuel limit damaging racing finally surfaced 15 races into the season…

  19. A few post race notes…

    Bernie has proven himself a Putin puppet.

    Remember when some were advising during the Pirelli tire debacle that drivers be limited how many laps they could run on a set of tires? Glad that never happened. Likely Rosberg is too.

    Is the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi signed sealed and delivered for the 2015 schedule? Bleh. Oh yeah, Putin puppet Bernie is being “asked” to make this a night race. Guess that’s what we’ll get then.

    Nice of Hamilton to dedicate the race to Jules.

    McLaren seems to be improving. Hmmmmm…..

    I’m sure Bottas was glad for a podium finish, but it looked the podium was the last place he really wanted to be. He was low key, classy and respectful though.

    1. Funny how anyone who is not bashing Putin is labeled a Putin puppet…

      1. @njoydesign – Then clearly, I must be one too as I have not bashed him either.

  20. Was shocked and quite impressed to see Hamilton snub Putin after the race by just walking past him as the other drivers shook his hand. But he did do it afterwards, I dont think he actually noticed him. It was all terribly awkward with Putin standing there with them before the podium. The whole thing was embarrasing…

    1. Very much so – embarrassing and disappointing.
      Glad Kieth made a point of mentioning the politics of the event.
      To Horner and all the other apologists, it’s not just a sporting event. Everything is political.

    2. Agreed uncomfortable viewing, irrespective of country I hope they ditch the idea of having the drivers line up for National Anthem’s, that was daft and had me reach for the mute button.

      This year has been characterised by particularly poor FIA TV direction at a number of races. I was screaming at the TV whenever Putin was being shown, it’s bad enough with all the random Driver WAG shots.

    3. USGP gets the governor of the host state, maybe the head of state is a bit too much ? (also adds to the security nightmare.) Either this says that Russia is much more repressed, Putin is more at ease in a crowd in his home country (da, comrade) or that he’s got the GP as a vanity / PR piece like the Sochi Olympics.

  21. The race was not the best, but to be honest, I am disgusted at some of the comments here. Why is it so wrong for the Russians to have an F1 race? The Chinese have one, and correct me if I am wrong but they are Communist. But ofcoarse, I forgot, the Europeans only like to suck off the Yanks don’t they. After all, they are such a peaceful nation that never starts wars.

    1. There is nothing wrong with Russia having a race. I don’t mind any country having a race because F1 and politics are supposed to be separate. My issue is with the GP being used for political purposes.

      At no other GP do you see more of their country’s leader than you do the the race leader!

  22. Thank goodness I got to watch Bathurst during the day, what a great race, on a great circuit, with great TV coverage. F1 from Socchi was a dismal failure in comparison. I wonder how much the circuit designer got paid ? I just couldn’t take the boredom. F1 appears to be losing its way once more and in general the newer circuits seem to generate the least interesting racing. Moto GP leaves F1 for dead as a spectacle to watch on TV.

  23. @keithcollantine I’m just going to ask this; If Obama visited the Austin race do you really think there would be no shot of him mid-race? Do you really think the ‘leader’ of F1 would go and visit him like any CEO of a company would do? If Putin is the one who made this race possible (bad/good track all aside) isn’t it just showing some respect to give the man albeit a minute or two airtime and a proper greeting?

    1. Even if obama WOULD be there and FOM would show him (would it be quite as often though? Not unless they would show him cheering on Lewis a lot, or something), wouldn’t we still mention how instead of showing the action (I expect it to actually be there in Austin) they showed him though @xtwl?

      And If it would be staged as obviously, and certainly if it would be close to any election or poll that needed influencing etc, its highly likely Keith would mention it too. Difference is, that in the US its quite likely there would be TV stations and maybe congressmen and senators (and Texas gouvernor?) raising this issue as well.

      1. @basvb and @coldfly Do understand I don’t think it was good he got ‘so much’ airtime. I just seem to be one of the few to demand some transparency. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Putin but hosting a F1 race, for me, isn’t one of those. Visiting that race isn’t one of those things either.

        @coldfly I don’t think they hijacked the moment. The drivers had to come uprfont for the national anthem and took a time to think about Jules Bianchi. In Austin few years back all drivers did the same for the national anthem.

    2. @xtwl, I do think it would be mentioned if it happened this often anywhere else, and the awkward visit to the green room.

      I thought it was a bit too much, but could have lived with it.
      However….
      You asked for ‘showing some respect’. IMHO it was totally unacceptable to hijack the moment when the drivers wanted to support Jules, and instead have them line up in silence for the Russian anthem. FOM and organisers did not show any respect for Jules and the well intended gesture from the drivers.

  24. Well I think the race was 8/10. There was a lot more going on than most seem to appreciate. I especiially enjoyed the uncertainty around the tyre degradation and the alternative strategies that paid off.

  25. Artyom Gavrichenkov
    13th October 2014, 7:21

    Could you please keep on commenting what you really know (e. g. Formula-1) and stop commenting what you don’t know, or when your impression can be biased (politics, propaganda)?

    For the sake of sanity. Please.

    1. Firstly, no. I’ll write about whatever I choose to.

      Secondly, you’re not going to tell me I never get accused of ‘bias’ when I only write about drivers and teams, because it isn’t true. It’s so far from being true I genuinely chuckled when I read this.

      1. @keithcollantine please please never stop writing about politics and formula 1. You are the only one doing that although it’s clear that this race was turned into propaganda. I’m shocked to ses that on a lot of websites people are not even bothered by this situation. Thank you for what you do Keith.

      2. +1, Keith it’s why most of us keep coming back to F1 Fanatic.

      3. +1, keep on writing @keithcollantine.
        I do not always agree, but I live in a free country (or can hide behind TOR) and can respectfully disagree and debate with you/others.

        Keep it up!

    2. This comment really made me laugh.
      People are truly out to get @keithcollantine today! Its totally uncalled for! I would have also commented on the political part of the race. He makes an excellent point about F1 ‘not being political when the race ‘coverage’ shows its not the case at all. If he hadnt then the article would have been awfully short with such a dull race! I didnt have a problem with Putin on the podium, but I didnt like the cameras showing him all the time or the awkward couple of minutes before the podium.

      Its Keith’s blog.. he can write what he wants. If you have a problem with that, you can always visit other sites or start your own blog comrade :-)

    3. Three guesses at your nationality Artyom Gavrichenkov? My first would not be Ukranian! :-D

  26. Its so sad to hear about politics here. I follow f1 for 14 years and this was my 4th Grand Prix after Spa, Monza & Sepang. The track and surroundings are great, the race was dull, but why do you need to put Putin here? Please don’t be so one sided.

    1. Didn’t Putin put himself here? Getting old seeing all the defenders of that Russian turd around here.

  27. One day (but by the way the Russian GP was I will never think so) we might be or the current generation might be lucky to witness; wheel-to-wheel racing, overtaking, skill, bravery, excitement and dicing for the lead right up until the chequered flag. But as long as Ecclestone and his comrade officers are in the job we will be conspired to be serve up yet another plateful of pretty much the same as for the past 4 years with RBR dominance as this years Petronas Mercedes dominance, but this year it’s been even more boring and obvious, the Mercs are completely unchallenged throughout. How this procession and monopoly can be considered any form of sport let alone the ‘premier’ class is beyond me and I’m sure many of us. F1 will never ever recover if Ecclestone and his comrade officers are running this show for much longer, someone has to really take a long hard look and step in before the destruction of this Sport which was made by legends will be set in a tomb stone never to be seen or heard of again.

  28. This was a Murray Walker race, in that only he would be able to make it interesting…

  29. I watch F1 for 19 years – this was the first time (as far as i remember – maybe someone can correct me) when in the victory room there is a host country president, officials and Ecclestone “casualy” chatting with the first three pilots.
    Bottas had a priceless “what the…” facial expresion, Rosberg tried to be friendly as possible, Hamilton only could push out a bit dumb smile for camera.

    Utter fail.

    1. I’m pretty sure this is not the first. And even if it is, what’s wrong? Putin has expressed personal interest in the sport before, and why would he not capitalize on this occasion to have a quick chat with the drivers?

      In any case, he made a fool of himself, asking Bottas how many kgs he loses a race. If this was pre-planned, I am sure Putin would have had a better question to ask.

      1. Do you read news?

      2. Maybe Bottas being a Finn he would have had the perfect opportunity to ask an uncomfortable question about Russia respecting national borders…

  30. I have to agree with some commentators here. Keith should have stayed away from making a political comment/observation, when it is so obvious he hails from the once-mighty Great Britain. The West look at Russia and Putin with blinkered eyes. I will be quite amused to see what Keith would have to say should Her Majesty or the man in-charge of 10th Downing St. make it to next year’s British GP. Bet his tongue will lose some of its sting then.

    1. It’s not unknown for political figures to attend a sporting event (first pitch of the new baseball season, kind of thing), and while Obama is not likely to show up for an F1 race, Rick Perry will probably be there, since it IS in Austin etc.

      It’s not unknown for such people to get a pit pass or to be part of the crowd wandering around on the grid before the race, chatting with Bernie, etc.

      But it’s pretty much unknown for them to insert themselves into the ceremonials, show up in the locker rooms, hand out the trophies, etc. The Prime Minister might make it down to Silverstone but he doesn’t get up on the podium with the winners! It’s tawdry, is what it is.

      That said, given that Putin has displayed at least some personal interest in F1, perhaps he can be forgiven for a social faux pas that a Russian might not recognize as such (and, let’s be honest, on the list of things he could be forgiven for, “hogging the camera at the year’s most boring F1 race” is a long way down from “invading neighboring countries”.) If I were the governor of Texas, I might be tempted to hang around the pits and hand out a few ten-gallon hats, sort of thing.

  31. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    13th October 2014, 9:00

    I don’t ask F1, a global sport, to exist in a political vacuum, but I do ask it to support the fundamental principles of egalitarianism and pluralism. But how can that be the case if Bernie is shaking hands with the political right’s new posterboy; a homophobic and hegemonic menace to the idyll of global liberalism? Grands Prix should be events of patriotic national pride, but not an attempt to demonstrate national superiority: the Russian Grand Prix was nothing more than a tiresome propaganda display. I am disappointed with the complete lack of political engagement by the British media, certainly compared with that of Bahrain in 2012, and the near hegemonic repetitive praise of a track that is clearly the worst layout to host a Grand Prix since the 2010 use of Bahrain’s abhorrent endurance circuit.

  32. Its no more or less absurd to have a race in Russia than it is in Britain or America. Neither nation is scared of flexing their military muscles towards regimes they disagree with. SO either you remain objective and state this or leave it off the agenda entirely. The western worlds rhetoric may persuade you that arming Kurds or over throwing middle eastern regimes is “goody vs baddie” but its rarely that simple. Iraq was once armed by the West for example.

    I think id go with Bernie and co and agree its not F1 s problem and unless you are going to do anything about it its not yours either.

    1. There was no comment from Keith on the behaviour of Russia as a nation. This is solely about the cult of personality that surrounds Putin. Personally I found it distasteful (as did many people) and would have done irrespective of which country leader was on show.

      1. Some would think the guy was on the screen for 2 hours non-stop. I don’t remember seeing more than a minute of the guy during the race. There was some brief showing after when you usually have public figures on display anyway, and that’s that. Chill out with Putin. If the guy made the race happen, I don’t think it’s so bad giving him a few minutes in the course of 2 hours.

      2. SO this will be the first line of the review of the next race in Austin?

        When confronted with questions about the ethics or politics of racing in certain countries – be they Bahrain, Russia or wherever – Formula One team representatives have dutifully stuck to the same ‘F1 doesn’t do politics line’ which Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt fall back on.

        I think not

  33. @antonyob – your comments sound like a classic case of “whataboutism”, better re-read the article and underlying comments.

    1. Once is fine thanks. I’ve no idea what “whataboutism” means.

      Its double standards, I stand by my comments. I suggest you re-read them.

      1. Well you can always look it up and expand you knowledge.

  34. The track and environment was mighty fine IMHO and I like it very much. It would’ve been a better race if softs and supersofts were use. I’ve learnt how to close both eyes when it comes to politics cause they’re like never ending stories and worse of all I/we can’t do anything about it except rant and rant, becomes pointless after a while. So why not soak in the positives of the races and venues, makes life more pleasant.

  35. I dont quite understand how tires were a problem here. If anything, the lack of degradation must have egged the drivers to push further. Fuel was a problem as evident by the teams informing a lot of drivers.

    I think that the layout of the circuit simply doesn’t allow for much overtakings to happen. Ricciardo was stuck behind Vettel first and then Alonso for quite a few laps. He is not one to be afraid of making a move. But he simply couldn’t.

    Not sure what changing the tires to SS will do. Finally, the pitlane is a joke. To think that they ended up with such a design while they had a huge blank space to create this track is simply ridiculous.

  36. Monaco’s royalty stands behind the podium during the entire trophy ceremony and no one bats an aye, Putin appears a few seconds after the race and everyone loses their minds.

    1. Yes, but the relative size of the two countries? Really? You mean Putin didn’t have more pressing matters as a head of state than to attend a GP, like say more distraction tactics in his re-invasion of former iron curtain countries?

    2. Guess you live under the rock and have missed last years political situation involving Putin.

      Monaco prince is hardly attacking neighbouring countries or supporting forces that shoot down civilian planes. I guess the biggest (moral?) issue regarding Monaco prince would be that he cannot produce legitimate heir – but that’s his private business and it isn’t impacting millions of lives.

  37. Another Hermann Tilke circuit-boring!!!Why the hell don’t they use different people.

  38. I guess Obama has a Nobel Prize for peace, so he can only do good?
    In my honest opinion, the only dictator of this world is US. I honestly see Russia as the last truly independent nation and I salute them for that.

    1. lol yeah because Russia are not in Ukraine or anything…

  39. This was a really well written review. It sums up exactly what I was thinking about the race. Nice job :)

  40. FOM and Bernie can NEVER say politics and F1 don’t get mixed after this one. No fewer than 4 views of Putin and Mr. E mixing it up on the tv, Bernie demanding absolute silence during the anthem. Both of these go completely against his rants of how politics and F1 are not blended. If true he would demand silence at EVERY race for the anthem, tv coverage would have shown Putin once, lord knows he was seen enough on the podium. This is NOT an anti Putin rant for you Russophiles, but calling out Bernie for his blatant hypocrisy! He will now forever be linked with the phrase “do as I say, not as I do.”

  41. Wish Valterri would have told little Stalin to go screw himself

  42. IMHO, Putin should not be in the green room.

  43. If Bernie is going to allow politicians behind the screens and onto the podium I hope one of the drivers has the guts to ask them difficult and embarrassing questions, I was so hoping when Putin was talking to Lewis he would ask him why he was so homophobic or why he thought it was ok to invade and support terrorism in the Ukraine. That would certainly give Bernie a few second thoughts about sucking up to these people

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