F1 Season Update 9/26

With round 15 coming to a close this past weekend, Russian F1 fans saw all ten teams battle it out in the Sochi Autodrom. An estimated 30,000 fans showed up to this 50% capacity event, cheering on their favorite drivers and teams. This event marked the eighth time F1 has traveled to the largest country in the world.

 

Qualifying started with a wet and slippery track on Saturday, but even with these conditions, Lando Norris managed to come out on top, running a 1:41.993 in Q3. Carlo Sainz wasn’t that far behind driving the black prancing horse Ferrari in 2nd. Rounding out the top three for qualifying was George Russell, driving for Williams Mercedes. A shocker to some fans, Lewis Hamilton, F1’s ultimate dominator, qualified fourth due to weather conditions affecting his laps.

 

Once the light went green at Sochi, the action quickly started as Carlos Sainz overtook Lando Norris before heading into the second turn. The heat didn’t stop there, though, as, in lap two, Lewis Hamilton took his Mercedes AMG Petronas car in an outer line momentum overtake against Fernando Alonso. Lap six saw Max Verstappen try an aggressive overtake in the inside line against Valtteri Bottas. Skipping to lap ten, Max Verstappen attempts to get on the inside line against Charles Leclerc but fails as Charles blocks him. Lando Norris went full speed braking, late before the turn, taking back first in lap thirteen, and shoving Carlos Sainz back into second. Lando’s teammate, Daniel Ricardo, comes into the pits in lap twenty-three but sees a super slow tire change dropping him down from seventh to thirteenth. With fresher tires, Hamilton takes over Carlos Sainz in turn two, bringing him up into sixth. Eight laps later, Fernando Alonso yanks sixth place from Verstappen.

Lap forty-seven saw the risks of using slicks in the rain as it started to pour down more. Lando and Hamilton, split by a mere 0.6-second gap. But as they approached turn five, Lando understeers and goes wide, allowing Hamilton to close the gap even further. Also, in the same lap, teammate Lance Stroll pushes his teammate Sebastian Vettel close into the wall, but both make it out fine. Approaching lap forty-nine, Norris still refuses to swap to wet blue tires, but Hamilton pits in for blues. Norris, of course, gets increasingly slower times each lap. These decisions for both of the drivers will change the remaining four laps. With even more rain pouring down onto this historic Sochi track, Lance Stroll loses grip and slides off the circuit into a barrier causing damage to the car. Two laps remain as Norris and Hamilton try their best to either hold onto the lead or take first place. Heading towards turn five, a four-second gap between the two became an overtake for Lewis Hamilton. Norris spun out, handing over the lead and giving Hamilton his one-hundredth victory in F1. 

 

Looking onto the current driver standings, Lewis Hamilton leads with 246.5 points. But not far behind, Max Verstappen holds onto second with 244.5 points. There’s only a 2 point gap between these two fierce. Will Hamilton hold onto his lead, or will Verstappen upset him and take the driver’s championship lead? Find out when F1 heads into Turkey for the Turkish Grand Prix on October tenth.