F1 Power Rankings: Russian Grand Prix

Moving up from its traditional (as traditional as something can get over two years) late season spot on the schedule, the fourth round of the Formula One World Championship in Russia. Lewis Hamilton has won both races at the Sochi Autodrom but hasn’t won this season. If there was ever a place to turn his season around, it would be here and now. Do I think he has a chance? This weekend’s Formula One Power Rankings hold the answer.

#1 Nico Rosberg
With three wins in a row, Nico ascends to the top of the Power Rankings: “It’s great to see that we still have the quickest car out there and, of course, it’s always the plan to win every race. But I would never have expected the first three weekends to go the way they have. I’ve made the most of my opportunities and I have a bit of an advantage in the points right now.”

#2 Lewis Hamilton
For once, it’s Lewis that’s had the bad luck: “Adversity is part of the journey: it brings us closer, makes us stronger and I know that together we’ll bounce back, so I’m confident of better weekends to come. There are lots of positives to carry into the next battle. If nothing else, I know after these first few races that I can still overtake.”

#3 Sebastian Vettel

#4 Kimi Raikkonen

#5 Daniel Ricciardo
The way Danny Boy describes it, it sounds like Sochi is a street circuit: “In the past it’s been quite low grip. It got a bit better last year but it’s still quite slippery and because there is not that much tyre wear we haven’t done many pit stops in the past. There is not much camber change either, which you get on a lot of tracks. Also the corners are very flat and because of that quite unique.”

#6 Daniil Kvyat
Daniil Boy talks about his upcoming home race: “I’m very excited to get back to Russia for the Grand Prix. It’s an important race for me and it’s nice to see my family and friends and all the fans that come to support me and the team in Sochi. I can’t wait! It’s very nice to have a home race. It’s very special for every driver so I think I’m very lucky to have one.”

#7 Felipe Massa
Old Phil needs to get someone new to write his PR quotage: “Sochi is a nice track to drive. It’s a mix between a city circuit and a normal circuit. It’s a race I enjoy and one we have traditionally done well at. I don’t know Russia very much, as we stay in a small town and spend most of our time at the hotel or the track. I like racing there and I hope the event gets bigger every year. From what I know of the track, I’m hopeful it will suit this year’s car, but it’s too early to say for sure.”

#8 Max Verstappen

#9 Carlos Sainz

#10 Valtteri Bottas
Here’s a new wrinkle that the ultra-smooth Bernie-ized Sochi track throws at the teams: ” One challenge in Sochi is that the asphalt is quite smooth, so in qualifying it’s not easy to get the tyres to work quickly enough for the timed lap. That has been a challenge in previous years, but hopefully we have fixed it and I’m sure we’re going to have a good weekend in Russia.”

#11 Romain Grosjean
Haas apparently has some setup issues which were first rumoured in Bahrain and confirmed in China: “You have a few tools you can use in the car to change and fine-tune things like the aero balance. But when you’re not very happy with your car and the setup’s not behaving the way it should be, it’s very difficult in a very competitive world to recover.”

#12 Sergio Perez
Checo talks about learning from difficult weekends and proceeds to not mention anything learned. I think that’s a point missed: “I think we can be competitive this weekend. We didn’t get things right in China and just missed out on points, so we need to concentrate on improving our race pace. It’s often those difficult weekends where you learn the most and see where you can improve, so I’m confident we can be in better shape this weekend.”

#13 Fernando Alonso
Alonso talks about the keys to winning the midfield battle: “It’ll definitely be a tricky race – competition in the midfield is very tough, and a lot of the teams are looking pretty strong, with solid reliability. We had a smooth weekend reliability-wise in China and we’re definitely learning a lot race-by-race, so I’m hopeful we can have a stronger result in Sochi. This race is particularly hard on fuel, so along with the tyre strategy there’ll be a lot of elements to manage.”

#14 Jenson Button
Jenson really likes this track. Well, to each their own: “The Sochi Autodrom is one of the fastest city courses we go to, so it doesn’t share many of the same characteristics in terms of set-up compared with other similarly configured tracks. For a modern venue, the racing there has so far been pretty good – the track is wide and fast, and there are a few good overtaking opportunities and some interesting, slower corners at the end of the straights to mix it up a bit.”

#15 Nico Hulkenberg
After three races, I disagree with The Hulk. I don’t fancy their chances when they’re this far behind at the start of the season: “The goal is to get some more points on the board in Russia. The last two races have been frustrating for different reasons and I don’t think we’ve shown our full potential yet. In China I really struggled with tyre degradation, but I don’t think that will be such an issue at Sochi because it’s a much smoother surface.”

#16 Kevin Magnussen
KMag gives a little insight into how Sochi is different from other circuits: “It’s pretty unique with some interesting corners so it’s a bit different from the other tracks we visit. The grip level’s pretty good from the track surface too. In terms of layout, turn three seems to go on forever but you’re flat on the throttle. Then there are a lot of corners where it feels you’re braking too late but where the exit opens up and there you have to focus on getting the exit right. You have to be a little bit different in how you approach your driving there.”

#17 Esteban Gutierrez
Unlike his teammate, Steve seems more interested in adapting his driving style to the car: “You can influence the car with your driving style. You just have to adapt. If I have an understeering car, I do a certain driving style and the other way around if I have an oversteering car. We have a lot of tools too, as you can see on the steering wheel with all the buttons we have. We have some tools there at our fingertips where can try and fix it.”

#18 Jolyon Palmer
Unlike Checo, Jo explains what needs work based on his China debrief: ” It was certainly a weekend where we struggled so we’re doing everything to understand why. We’ve made good progress and what we can achieve is certainly better than what we saw in Shanghai. From my perspective, I’m still learning what exactly I need from this car at different tracks, on different tyres and in different conditions. We’ve made some good progress dissecting and understanding and this should translate to improvement on track in due course.”

#19 Felipe Nasr

#20 Marcus Ericsson

#21 Pascal Wehrlien

#22 Rio Haryanto

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