2017 Russian Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: It's interesting how tire strategy is playing out this year. With less degradation, the undercut isn't working as well. So instead, teams are opting to pit as late as possibly and hope fresher tired cars can run down those cars with more worn tires. So far, it hasn't completely worked, but if teams are able to tweak the timing of the move, we could be in for some very interesting finishes.
TRACK: Mercedes still maintains their dominance at this track even if it's no longer complete domination.
EVENT: Putin is correct, more fans are showing up. But, that isn't necessarily saying much.
QUALIFYING: Ferrari had had enough and grabs the front row, Bottas beats Hamilton again, Red Bull is way off the pace, Ocon enjoys his first Q3, and Grosjean is out to lunch.
RACE: Okay, so we got spoiled after two great races. And, Barcelona and Monaco don't look promising. But hold on for Montreal where the excitement should return.
START: Bottas stuns the Scuderia, Hamilton not so much, Grosjean thinks there's a hole where there isn't, and Stroll gets hit again.
BOTTAS: Talk about totally deserving a win. Valterri loves this track and in a competitive car, he drove a perfect (we'll ignore that one lockup...) race under intense pressure for his first win.
HAMILTON: A repeat of 2016 Baku -- off the pace all weekend and even a bit lost at times.
VETTEL: The one track where pole isn't as important because the long straight favored the extra power of Mercedes at the start, Sebastian had to settle for second.
RAIKKONEN: Fast on Friday and Saturday, but ultimately still beaten by his teammate.
VERSTAPPEN: The best of the rest.
RICCIARDO: Hey, Daniel lasted five laps longer than Alonso...
RED BULL: If the promised upgrades for Barcelona to both the chassis and power unit bear fruit, we just might see a three team, six driver battle for wins.
PEREZ: Here we go yet again ... another fabulous run by Sergio.
OCON: This time Esteban got into the act.
MASSA: Did Felipe do a kind of, sort of, not really but subtle little favor for his former teammate?
STROLL: Lance finally finished a race.
SAINZ: Retaking control of Toro Rosso from Kvyat.
KVYAT: You have to admire Daniil's sense of humor with his torpedo liveried helmet.
VANDOORNE: Four races in and they are already suffering grid penalties for using more than their allotment of four power units.
ALONSO: And people wonder why Fernando wants to skip a F1 weekend for Indy? For all intents and purposes, he "skips" F1 races all the time lately.
MCLAREN HONDA: Just when you thought it couldn't get beyond pathetic, it gets beyond pathetic.
SAUBER: Good luck with those Honda engines next year. We sure hope Honda is providing you a boatload of money to make it worth it.
GROSJEAN: Well, that was a completely useless weekend.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: First.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Eight Finns started a F1 race. Seven have made the podium at least once. Five have won a race. Three -- Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, and Kimi Raikkonen -- are world champions. All this from a country of just 5.5 million people. Per capita, Finland may be the most successful country in F1. (And this doesn't count Nico Rosberg who raced under the German flag.)
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: The last time Ferrari took the front row in qualifying was the 2008 French GP held at Magny-Cours with drivers still racing today. Kimi Raikkonen got the pole followed by Felipe Massa. Lewis Hamilton was also on the second row, but in a McLaren with Mercedes power, while Fernando Alonso started fourth in a Renault. Massa won the race after Raikkonen's exhaust pipe broke, robbing him of power. Ferrari still took the top two spots with Jarno Trulli in a Toyota joining them on the podium. It was, so far, the last French GP.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Fernando Alonso channeling his inner Raikkonen, "I tried [to leave early] but there were no planes. So, I will have an ice cream."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Felipe Massa giving a very accurate dig on Sebastian Vettel's issue at the end of the race, "He really likes to complain."
SCHEDULE: Fernando Alonso returns home. On second thought...
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