Start of the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, image courtesy of Daimler Global Media

Formula One Update: 2016 Russian Grand Prix Takeaways

Watching Nico Rosberg completely dominate another 2016 Formula One race dialed in a little more perspective on what he is accomplishing this season.  For one driver and team to win 7 races in a row is quite an accomplishment.  Even that is an understatement.  Where the 2015 season was a second exclamation point on how good a driver Lewis Hamilton is, Rosberg’s last 7 races looks like a story of driver and team.

Team is also the frame for the stories of the 2016 Russian Grand Prix.  Let’s look at the storylines:

Nico Rosberg: The circuit at Sochi was the 4th straight win, and 7th if you include the end of the 2015 season.  Nico and his portion of the Silver Arrows team has performed at 100%.  Not only has Rosberg been flawless, his car, technology and team has been as well.  This is the kind of domination that isn’t seen often at this level of competition, no matter the sport.  Think back to 2015.  Lewis battled through a spate of particularly bad decisions by race managers, especially at Monaco.  But he survived to win his second Championship in as many years.  Nico hasn’t had these problems.  If you look at the competition, there is nothing but karma and glitches standing in his way to the Championship.  His primary competitors are in disarray.  Hamilton can’t get past ennui, bad starts and car problems.  Sebastian Vettel can’t get past the second lap of a race.

Lewis Hamilton: Maybe the back-to-back driving champion is suffering from the inevitable let down.  It’s human, like it or not.

But racing is a bit of technology, human error and luck. Even though he hasn’t been stricken by management errors, he has come up short on luck and technology.  The start in Bahrain would have killed anyone’s chance at winning.  Mistakes at the start of the rest of this year’s races have burdened his chances for success.  He had no water pressure for the last 20 laps in Sochi.

But we’re only 4 races in.  At some point, I imagine sooner than later, he will get sick of losing.  That’s when we should sit back and look for an epic race season (I hope).

Mercedes AMG Petronas:  The Silver Arrows are poised to become even more historic than ever before.  If Rosberg wins the 2016 Driver’s Championship, it’s a three-peat for the team.  If they win the Constructors’ Cup, it will be three straight, another step towards beating Ferrari’s record of 6 consecutive awards for the best car.

The other thing that Mercedes is getting right are the drivers. Nico and Lewis are two #1 drivers being forced into teamwork.  Although this is nothing new in racing, executing this trick doesn’t always go right.  Mercedes is making it work.  Early on it was clear that the two drivers didn’t like each other.   Dislike turned darker as they battled in 2014 and 2015.  But in 2016, at least Rosberg is signaling that winning is nice, but battling with Lewis Hamilton is better.

“I can’t say l miss it [fighting with Hamilton] because it is awesome to win races and in the end it doesn’t matter how,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1. “Winning is great and what I’m here for. But the ecstatic feeling isn’t there, it’s there when l win a battle with Lewis, that’s what gives the ultimate thrill.”


Maybe Lewis and Nico are the 21st Century equivalent of Lauda and Hunt, this time on the same team.

Sebastian Vettel: According to the Sydney Morning-Herald, Red Bull’s Daniil Kyvat called to apologize to Seb.  In case you’re wondering why, then maybe you should watch this:

Hitting another car once is the norm in racing.  Hitting the same car twice within 30 seconds is….well it could be called targeted.  Or stupid.  Or both.

“There was a bit going on,” said Kvyat by way of explanation. “I think in the last moment I didn’t expect it (the Ferrari) to slow so much. “All the mess came from me,” he added. “Of course it doesn’t feel great but these things happen sometimes. It’s probably the messiest (start) of my career. I will learn from it, and of course apologies to everyone involved.
“Everyone will attack me, but I’m OK with that,” he added.


The problem for Vettel is that he’s in 5th place in the Driver’s Championships.  Stuff like this won’t help him win.

Haas F1 Racing: The greatest story of the 2016 Formula One season continues.  Roman Grosjean drove car VF-16 to another Top 10 finish in 3 of 4 races.  The first American F1 team in 30 years is treading on history.  No team has scored as many Top 10s in as few races.  Click here for a great interview with Haas F1 owner Gene Haas, featuring the best pull-quote title ever–“We’re no Ferrari Junior Team”.

Haas, a businessman,  sums up his strategy towards F1 quite succinctly:

Entering Formula One is a business decision. In NASCAR to get any money you have to win – in F1 if you finish tenth or better you get a percentage.


So Haas is not just in it to win, they’re in it to make money.  Which are two completely different, but not dissimilar, things.

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Sebastian James

Accept no substitutes

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