FormulaY : Russia Debrief

The Russian GP is a bit of a Boring Boris track outside the first yellow (which tends to happen quickly). Don’t get me wrong, Sunday’s session on the Olympic grounds in Sochi was good. But it wasn’t exciting. In context, the weekend was. Ferrari dominated Go Fast Day and that made Bottas’ first victory a fresh surprise and an exciting flip of the script in what was expected to be a red lead procession.

Congratulations to Valtteri Bottas on his first Grand Prix win.




Daniel Ricciardo’s weekend for RBR ended prematurely after a solid qualifying session, marked by at least keeping pace as best of the rest. RIC’s issue was break failure, the second occurrence in as many weeks for the team. Despite the FIA testing claiming RBR only 0.3 seconds off the Ferraris and Mercedes, both drivers 3 and 33 see it differently. But this isn’t PU related. They admit its 50/50 blame with the PU and chassis for their early year troubles. Is the Aero off and they are not getting enough air flow over the breaks to cool down? Like with Haas is this a suspension + break component issue?

One thing is for sure: RBR should take notes on Haas, who switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie leading to more gremlins for Romain Grosjean. Whatever fixes RBR are planning, they should hope to avoid messing up the balance elsewhere, like Haas has appeared to do. It is still unsure what went wrong in Russia for GRO but it didn’t seem to be only the breaks. Even with a calm and professional driver like Grosjean, the constant issues in the back end are enough to put a driver out of his zone. Whether his issues this past weekend were due to a switch in breaks or just a wearing down of his patience, the Spanish GP will sort out. His teammate Kevin Magnussen had no issues, driving the best Haas car all weekend.


It must be a weird feeling in the Renault garage these days. New #1 Driver Nico “2015 Le Mans winner” Hulkenberg gets stronger every round, pushing his way into the midfield pack fight in his first year on the team. But on the other side of the garage, second driver Joylon Palmer has two DNFs and really only one qualifying effort of note. Renault is in their first full year back in the series, and are positioned well starting with new regulations. With tons of human and financial capital being thrown by the manufacturer into the team, its hard to say Palmer’s inability to keep up isn’t limiting how fast Renault can step forward as true rivals to Force India or Williams, let alone Red Bull (their customer team), Mercedes, and Ferrari.

It’s not just about quantity of data lost by Palmer’s DNFs or early exits from Qualifying. That obviously hurts the teams ability to prepare strategies for Sunday for both drivers. But it is also about the quality of data thy aren’t getting. Renault is hyping engine upgrades coming for Canada and with the usual aero upgrade Spanish GP coming up in two weeks, having two cars and drivers that can take these upgrades to the brink and provide credible feedback is important. It seems Renault has two cars this year but-as of now- only one driver capable of progressing as fast as they can. Will that hurt them developing the 2018 PU?

The good news is that Hulkenberg is an immediate fit and the future there looks bright should the PU arrive. Palmer’s early stumble after last year’s performance makes it very likely Renault go in a different direction next year–which is better than waiting another year to replace Palmer. But there is still a lot of work to be done and a few upgrades that need to hit their trajectory and on-time. Hulkenberg will bear the brunt of the responsibility of bringing the car up front to compare to the rest of the midfield.  I can’t help but wonder were Renault could be by year’s end if they were able to borrow a Red Bull driver, like Frenchman Pierre Gasly, for the season. Or even a Daniil Kvyat.

Other notes

Instead of talking about Alonso and McHonda again, or giving another angle to Ferrari vs Mercedes, here are some other thoughts on the weekend:

  • BWT has made out like bandits as the Pink Panthers continue to place both cars in the points. If not for Massa’s incredible start to the season, Force India would be connected much more to Red Bull than Mercedes-cousin Williams.
  • Lance Stroll finished a race but his dad should probably stop talking to NBCSports and others on the pit walk. That can’t help the pay driver taunting.
  • Toro Rosso has yet to take advantage of  Stroll’s inability to grab points. Is that on Kvyat or the team for failing to get their second car up to snuff? Sainz Jr. has 11 of the 13 points. Or is Kvyat just over STR/RBR and knows his days are numbered?
  • Marcus Ericsson couldn’t get back into Q2 after doing so in Rounds 1 & 2. Ericsson has done quite well for Sauber, especially considering that handicap. Should he be able to replicate the qualifying groove he found himself in the first two weekends, Ericsson could have a point or two by November.
  • Sauber will be running Honda PUs in 2018. The years old Ferrari engine was never going to work. Jumping off the cliff with Honda is no risk, all reward. Nothing can be worse. McLaren may let Honda walk, giving Sauber incredible opportunity. Suddenly they may become a factory team and not just another team buying engines. Even if Honda can only deliver Sauber 10-15 point years, that is a huge step up. Failure with Honda means using their money and being in the same position as right now. No loss.

Formula 1 Standings and Schedule

Formula 1 Drivers' Championship
Place Name Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 86
2 Lewis Hamilton 73
3 Valtteri Bottas 63
4 Kimi Räikkönen 49
5 Max Verstappen 35


Formula 1 Constructors' Championship
Place Name Points
1 Mercedes 136
2 Scuderia Ferrari 135
3 Red Bull Racing 57
4 Force India-Mercedes 31
5 Williams-Mercedes 18


Formula 1 on NBC Sports
Round Date Grand Prix Track Winner Team
1 26 March Australian Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2 9 April Chinese Shanghai International Circuit Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3 16 April Bahrain Bahrain International Circuit Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
4 30 April Russian Sochi Autodrom Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
5 14 May Spanish Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
6 28 May Monaco Circuit de Monaco
7 11 June Canadian Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
8 25 June Azerbaijan Baku City Circuit
9 9 July Austrain Red Bull Ring
10 16 July British Silverstone Circuit
11 30 July Hungarian Hungaroring
12 27 August Belgian Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
13 3 September Italian Autodromo Nazionale Monza
14 17 September Singapore Marina Bay Street Circuit
15 1 October Malaysian Sepang International Circuit
16 8 October Japanese Suzuka International Racing Course
17 22 October United States Circuit of the Americas
18 29 October Mexican Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
19 12 November Brazilian Autódromo José Carlos Pace
20 26 November Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit




More Race Schedules

Formula E on Fox Sports
Round Date ePrix Track Winner Team
1 9 October 16 Hong Kong Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Circuit Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams
2 12 November 16 Marrakesh Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams
3 18 February Buenos Aires Puerto Madero Street Circuit Sébastien Buemi Renault e.Dams
4 1 April Mexico City Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez Lucas di Grassi ABT Schaeffler Audi
5 13 May Monaco Circuit de Monaco
6 20 May Paris Paris Street Circuit
7 10 June Berlin Race 1 Tempelhorf Airport Street Circuit
8 11 June Berlin Race 2 Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit
9 15 July New York Race 1 Brooklyn Street Circuit
10 16 July New York Race 2 Brooklyn Street Circuit
11 29 July Montreal Race 1 Montreal Street Circuit
12 30 July Montreal Race 2 Montreal Street Circuit


IndyCar on NBC Sports or ABC
Round Date Race Name Track Winner Team
1 March 12 Firestone GP of St Petersburg Streets of St Petersburg Sébastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing (Honda)
2 April 9 Toyota GP of Long Beach Streets of Long Beach James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Honda)
3 April 23 Honda Indy GP of Alabama Barber Motorsports Park Josef Newgarden Team Penske (Chevrolet)
4 April 29 Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix GP Phoenix International Raceway Simon Pagenaud Team Penske (Chevrolet)
5 May 13 IndyCar GP Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
6 May 28 101st Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
7 June 3 Chevrolet Detroit GP Raceway at Belle Isle Park
8 June 4 Chevrolet Detroit GP Raceway at Belle Isle Park
9 June 10 Rainguard Water Sealer 600 Texas Motor Speedway
10 June 25 Kohler GP Road America
11 July 9 Iowa Corn 300 Iowa Speedway
12 July 16 Honda Indy Toronto Exhibition Place
13 July 30 Honda Indy 200 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
14 August 20 ABC Supply 500 Pocono Raceway
15 August 26 Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Gateway Motorsports Park
16 September 3 GP at The Glen Watkins Glen International
17 September 17 GoPro GP of Sonoma Sonoma Raceway


FIA World Endurance Championship on WEC website
Round Date Race Track LM P1 LM GTE PRO
1 16 April 6 Hours of Silverstone Silverstone Circuit Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Derani/Priaulx/Tincknell Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK
2 6 May WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
3 17-18 June 24 Hours of Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe
4 16 July 6 Hours of Nürburgring Nürburgring
5 3 September 6 Hours of Mexico Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
6 16 September 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas Circuit of the Americas
7 15 October 6 Hours of Fuji Fuji Speedway
8 5 November 6 Hours of Shanghai Shanghai International Circuit
9 18 November 6 Hours of Bahrain Bahrain International Circuit


FIA World RX Championship on World RX website
Round Date Race Track Winner Team
1 31 March World RX of Barcelona Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Mattias Ekstrom EKS RX (Audi)
2 21 April Bompiso World RX of Portugal Montalegre Mattias Ekstrom EKS RX (Audi)
3 5 May World RX of Hockenheim Hockenheimring
4 12 May Coyote World RX of Belgium Circuit Jules Tacheny
5 26 May World RX of Great Britain Lydden Hill
6 9 June Team Verksted World RX of Norway Hell
7 30 June World RX of Sweden Holjes Motorstadion
8 4 August World RX of Canada Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres
9 1 September Bretagne World RX of France Loheac Bretagne
10 15 September Neste World RX of Latvia Bikernieki National Sports Base
11 29 September World RX of Germany Estering
12 10 November World RX of South Africa Killarney International Raceway


DTM on DTM website (US may need VPN), replay on CBS/CBS Sports
Round Race # Date Track Winner Team
1 R1 6 May Hockenheimring
1 R2 7 May Hockenheimring
2 R1 20 May EuroSpeedway Lausitz
2 R2 21 May EuroSpeedway Lausitz
3 R1 17 June Hungaroring
3 R2 18 June Hungaroring
4 R1 1 July Norisring
4 R2 2 July Norisring
5 R1 22 July Moscow Raceway
5 R2 23 July Moscow Raceway
6 R1 19 August Circuit Park Zandvoort
6 R2 20 August Circuit Park Zandvoort
7 R1 9 September Nürburgring
7 R2 10 September Nürburgring
8 R1 23 September Red Bull Ring
8 R2 24 September Red Bull Ring
9 R1 14 October Hockenheimring
9 R2 15 October Hockenheimring

Tags: , , ,