Hulk takes the power!

Three German drivers monopolize the top 3. The FP1 was shorter than usual but the paddock is just focalised on Red Bull’s dark future actually. This afternoon, the rain is expected. Let’s review this morning spent in Sochi…

Weather report: cloudy, T. air: 11-18°C ; T. track: 23°C ; humidity rate: 58-60% and wind speed: 2m.s (north-west)

After having hosted the winter Olympic Games in February 2014, Sochi organized the first Russian GP of the F1 history in October. The “Big Bear” aims to find back its haughtiness but its pretences are joined by some huge debts. This summer, the German press reported a critical situation (–renn-ausfall-droht-,4595266,31238248.html) but the GP promoters were more reassuring during their last visits in the paddock. Several entertainments have been scheduled for the fans during the race weekend. Furthermore, they want to prolong their contract with the FOM and they even talk about becoming a race by night from 2017. Ambition in F1 requires an excellent financial health. Otherwise, they could experience the same fate as Istanbul, Yeongam, New-Delhi, etc…

Mercedes has kept some good memories from its last stay in the sea resort: a crown after a doubled. Lewis Hamilton signed a perfect weekend (pole in 1’38’’513 and win). Both of Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas were also on the podium.

There are some data about this track: length=5,848km, 18 turns=6 at left and 12 at right, 1st DRS zone=after the turn 1, 2nd DRS zone=after the turn 10, laps=53, tyres=supersoft and soft, 1 pit-stop on race (low abrasive track)

This morning, the FP1 started at 10:30am due to a diesel spillage on track. The session lasted 1h instead of 1h30. The firmen and the marshals cleansed the sectors 2 and 3 but it was still very slippery when the practice was underway. Pirelli explains why: Apart from both Williams onto the full wet tyres (wrong choice because the track was too dry for this kind of tyres), all the drivers were onto the inter compounds by awaiting for some better conditions.

Nico Hülkenberg has led in 1’44’’355 onto the soft tyres (+2’’044s slower than the P1 of Nico Rosberg in FP1 in 2014). Nico Rosberg, second (+0’’052s), isn’t too soft on track like some think so. The German wants his revenge from Suzuka and he’d like to see both Red Devils invite themselves between him and his team-mate on the grid.–weich–,4595266,32125780.html Sebastian Vettel, third (+0’’631s), aims the podium here. According to him, Mercedes won’t struggle here like they did in Singapore. Sergio Perez has been classified fourth (+0’’791s). Things are more and more complicated for Red Bull and Bernie Ecclestone can’t do anything to help them. Ferrari would agree for a partnership with STR but there will be no deal with the men from MK. They need a reconciliation with their current engine supplier for their salvation. Nevertheless, Cyril Abiteboul admits it will be hard to convince the Renault board to stay with RBR in 2016. Daniel Ricciardo, fifth (+0’’878s), will start to look for a new seat for 2016 from November if it’s necessary. The always smiling Aussie has outstripped Carlos Sainz Jr (+1’’113s). Lewis Hamilton, seventh, was close to take the power when he spun at the turn 8 in his last attempt (best S1 and S2). This is his GP column for Sochi: Max Verstappen, ninth, has been inserted between both Finns of the field (advantage for Valtteri Bottas). Jenson Button has appeared at the eleventh row. Felipe Massa has signed the twelfth time. Felipe Nasr has been thirteenth. Fernando Alonso, fourteenth (16 laps completed like Kimi Räikkönen=record in this session, average=12 and minimum=6 for Will Stevens), will have the new engine spec for his 250th GP in F1 (P+35 on the starting grid: contrary to Jenson who will have to wait for Mexico. The local hero Daniil Kvyat (16th) has been surrounded by both Lotus (advantage for Pastor Maldonado). Let’s note that Jolyon Palmer was in the seat of Romain Grosjean in FP1 but the Frenchman will be back from this afternoon. Alexander Rossi will run in GP2 here so Roberto Merhi will replace him at Manor (18th ; P+20 on the starting grid). Marcus Ericsson, nineteenth, had a gearbox issue at 11:23am. Will Stevens has been the good last one.

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