F1 Power Rankings: Russian Grand Prix

Though most of the Formula One fraternity is still focused on the events last weekend in Japan, the 2014 Formula One World Championship rolls on as the tour makes its first appearance in Russia. I’d imagine that if we weren’t talking about Jules Bianchi’s accident and rules changes that should be made, we’d probably be talking about the politics of racing in Russia but it’s probably for the best that we don’t talk about that now. Let’s look at the power rankings for the first Russian Grand Prix in 100 years.

f1-lewis-hamilton-helmet-2014#1 Lewis Hamilton
Let’s start the Power Rankings with Lewis talking about Jules Bianchi: “It’s difficult to know what to say after a weekend like the one in Japan. As I crossed the line, obviously I was pleased to have finally won at Suzuka – but as soon as we got back to the pits and heard what happened to Jules it suddenly didn’t seem relevant anymore. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

f1-nico-rosberg-helmet-2014#2 Nico Rosberg
Keke’s kid thinks that this race will be quite popular with local fans: “It’s exciting to be going to the first ever Russian Grand Prix. Formula One has never raced in Russia before, of course. But we did actually do a demo in Moscow a couple of years ago where I drove round the Kremlin, which was really cool. Everybody was really into it – all the Russian fans – so I think there will be a lot of people coming to watch us.”

#3 Daniel Ricciardo
Don’t be surprised if you read a lot of quotes like Danny Boy’s today: “It’s always exciting to go a new venue, particularly a new circuit. As a driver it’s always nice to have something fresh and new and obviously Russia provides a new layout for us. I drove a few laps on the simulator already and I think it should be interesting. It’s always different in real life but I hope it can be a fun track. I don’t think we’ll know until we get there, but let’s hope it’s a good challenge for us.”

#4 Sebastian Vettel
Old Four-Time compares Sochi to other circuits on the calendar: “There are definitely similarities to other tracks, perhaps the best comparison is Singapore. But unlike Singapore, the layout is more fluid, so it will be much faster. Some sectors remind me a bit of South Korea or Abu Dhabi. Generally, I think it has a very successful mix of corners with different characters, some of them will be very difficult, and that’s ultimately what we want as drivers.”

#5 Valtteri Bottas

#6 Fernando Alonso

#7 Felipe Massa

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2014#8 Jenson Button
For all the time in the simulator, JB says that there are some things that you don’t experience until you hit the road: “It’s always interesting to visit new circuits – it’s fun to get out and explore the contours of the track, the kerbs, the run-offs, the camber – all the things that you don’t really fully experience until you’re on-site and able to see the track for the very first time.”

#9 Sergio Perez
Checo talks about how to he learns a new circuit: “To prepare for a new track I normally walk the track and cycle it a few times. Normally you need about 10 laps before you can really start doing performance runs. Nobody knows the track so it will be the same situation for all of us. We all start from zero.”

#10 Kimi Raikkonen

#11 Nico Hulkenberg
The Hulk talks about what you can and can’t learn from looking at a track map: “It’s hard to look at a track on paper and really get an understanding of how it will feel to drive. I prefer to go there and experience things before I make judgements and talk about track characteristics. So in that sense it’s too early for me to compare it with another circuit. What is clear is that there are some really quick sections and a lot of right-angled corners.”

#12 Jean-Eric Vergne
JEV is the first one to mention the difficult task faced by the engineers: “It will be a new experience for everyone, which means it is quite a challenge for the engineers, who will have a Friday morning set-up based on the work we have done in a simulator. So there’s an element of guesswork, especially when it comes to what degradation we can expect from the Medium and Soft Pirellis.”

f1-kevin-magnussen-helmet-2014#13 Kevin Magnussen
Jan’s boy doesn’t like the looks of this track from an excitement standpoint: “It’s hard to see a key place for overtaking – there are no particularly big stops or opportunities where you can really place your car up the inside. Turn 11, which is the right-hander at the end of the back straight, might be a good possibility. Turn 13 could be an option, too.”

#14 Daniil Kvyat
It’s Daniil Boy’s home race. He’s just a bit excited about it: “Time for my home race and the first ever Formula One Grand Prix in my home country. I am sure there will be a lot of attention on me, but I am ready for it and will enjoy it in a way, so really I will just do my usual job: the best I can… I don’t get to go back to Russia very often, so I’m very excited to finally race in my home country in front of the Russian fans. I’m sure it’s going to be a very big and exciting event.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2014#15 Romain Grosjean
Romain is pretty excited to run around an Olympic complex while completely ignoring that Montreal’s track is also on an Olympic site: “For me, it’s also quite special to race at the site of an Olympic Games. I’m a huge fan of the Olympics and especially the Winter Olympics, because my grandfather competed in skiing events at the 1948 and 1952 events. Hopefully that will bring me some luck!”

f1-pastor-maldonado-helmet-2014#16 Pastor Maldonado
The biggest unknown for Pastor will be the grip. His poor mechanics: ” Everything is new and especially in terms of the surface there is no way for us to know how the track will develop during the weekend. In the past we saw situations like in Austin where the track was super slippery at the beginning and then session after session we were making improvements of two or three seconds. It’s vital to stay on top of everything because parts of the set-up that were working well might hold you back when you go five or six seconds a lap quicker.”

#17 Adrian Sutil

#18 Esteban Gutierrez

#19 Kamui Kobayashi

#20 Max Chilton

#21 Marcus Ericsson

#22 Alexander Rossi
The inclusion of Alex Rossi as the second Marussia driver is just a guess as of writing. There are two things we know about this weekend: 1) Marussia will run two cars; and 2) One of those drivers is not Jules Bianchi. Hopefully he finds himself behind the wheel of a race car again soon.

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