2019 Russian Grand Prix Race Report and Driver Interviews
Race: 2019 Russian Grand Prix
Location: Sochi, Russia
What a race we had today! Well, what looked like a strong weekend for Ferrari came to a sudden halt with the team telling Sebastian Vettel to stop his car due to an unreliability.
Right up until that point, it was back and forth between the Ferrari team-mates over the team radio. No one expected for Vettel to get such a good start – what was expected was Leclerc to be in the lead and Vettel in P2.
If Vettel was in the lead, according to the pre-race agreement, Vettel would give the position back to Leclerc at the end of the first lap but he had such good speed that Leclerc simply couldn’t keep up with his team-mate.
This caused tension over the team radio with Leclerc understandably not happy but at the same time – this is what racing is all about. You race, you get past and that includes your team mate.
Fast forward a few laps and there was a sudden stop for Sebastian Vettel with limited power to his car – the team telling him to “stop the car”.
This is where things changed for Ferrari and gave Mercedes the opportunity they needed – with a Virtual Safety Car and pit-stops meaning they could run their tyres and manage the race in their own way.
Aside from this, we had an incident between Grosjean and Ricciardo – with both drivers ending their races.
Red Bull also had a good race with Verstappen in 4th and Albon in 5th – both bringing in the points consistently for the team.
McLaren made a difference and today we saw potential – Sainz finishing in 6th and Norris in 8th. A great result for the team and it shows that they’re constantly building and progressing with their car and team.
Overall, the drama was pretty much on the front two teams – especially Ferrari with their two drivers.
With Mercedes now winning all the Russian Grand Prix races consecutively – does this give them the boost for the rest of the season or will we see Ferrari bounce back even stronger in Japan?
MERCEDES – 2019 Russian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton: “This win feels like it has been a long time coming and it was just an incredible job from the whole team: never giving up, pushing forward, always trying to be innovative.”
“It’s incredibly inspiring to be part of that and amazing to have this result today considering how quick the Ferrari’s were in that opening stint.”
“It was a really hard task to keep up with them, especially on the offset tyre, but we kept pushing and the car felt really good today.”
“We thought that their soft tyres would drop off during that opening stint, but they had such good pace that I was struggling to keep up with them – and that’s probably a little warning for us, because it looked like they got their calculations right in that regard.”
“I managed to stay within shooting distance, though, and started closing down the gap as their tyres started to drop.”
“Charles pitted, then I started catching Seb, and we were in a good position to offset and go long – even had the Safety Car not come out, it would have been a really good race.”
“Then everything fell our way, and after that it was a question of building the gap, saving the tyres but also getting to the finish as smoothly as possible.”
“Looking ahead, of course the races are counting down but we are just trying to take things one race at a time, put one foot in front of the other and not stumble.”
“When you have a battle like this, you’re working flat out, turning over every stone and questioning every little thing you can do better. We love that challenge and I’m really excited for the next races.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It’s been a while since we last had a 1-2 and it feels really good to stand up there on the podium together again. It’s really encouraging and motivating for the entire team.”
“We knew a 1-2 would be tricky to achieve, but possible, so we spoke about all the different strategies that would give us a chance this morning. and I think we did a really good job as a team today.”
“It’s a really good result if you think about how much we were struggling yesterday. Ferrari had a quick car all weekend long, I think they were quicker as well today, so to walk away with a 1-2 means that we did a great job as a team in all other areas.”
“I lost quite a bit of time when I was stuck behind Sainz in the beginning and I was also struggling to match the times on the Medium tyres, but it was a lot better in the second stint on the Soft tyres.”
“I was under a bit of pressure after the Safety Car restart, but it was all under control. Ferrari has made some good improvements in the past few weeks, so we know that we need to keep pushing for Japan, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
FERRARI – 2019 Russian Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel: “I don’t know what happened. I think we had an agreement. I spoke with Charles in particular before the race. I think it was quite clear, but I don’t know, maybe I missed something.”
“I’m sure we will talk about it, but obviously it is bitter today because we wanted to have the cars finishing one and two. It’s not the result that we wanted.”
Charles Leclerc: “I think it was all very difficult to follow. Lewis’ pace at the beginning of the race when he was behind and after when he was in front – there was a big change.”
“I think that they were very quick, they’ve been quick in the race pace since the beginning of the year. We need to understand why there’s so much difference between the Quali and the race pace.”
“Whether it would have been enough to challenge them or not, I don’t think so because I couldn’t overtake Valtteri and Lewis was a lot quicker!”
“We will all try and speak now. Everything has been respected in a way because I gave the slip-stream then we had to do the swap back – which we did at the pit stop.”
“For sure, he did a great start but the performance was the same and then I stayed on the left to give him the slip-stream. There’s no big deal, at the end – I think everyone respected their own things.”
RED BULL RACING – 2019 Russian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen: “I think P4 was the best possible result today and we had a little bit of luck with Seb retiring, but I’m satisfied with the points we scored considering the penalties and pace of Ferrari and Mercedes.”
“There wasn’t too much going on for me once I cleared the mid-field traffic and from there I had a bit of a lonely race until the Safety Car closed us all up.”
“We were clearly a bit slower than the top three today but at the end of the race it was also more difficult being on the medium compound tyre when the others were on the soft.”
“For sure we maximised the result but of course we want to be scoring more podiums and victories so we still have work to do as the others are very strong.”
“Now I’m looking forward to Suzuka and we want to do the best we can for all the Japanese fans at Honda’s home race!!”
Alexander Albon: “It was a good race and I think P5 is the best we could have done. I wanted to bounce back and get a good result after yesterday’s crash so I’m really happy with how the race went, although we probably got a bit lucky with the Safety Car.”
“Morale was obviously a little bit low on Saturday night and it was a lot of work for the Team so this result is for them.”
“Starting from the pit lane was never going to be easy but the pace was quite strong on the softs and it was a good haul of points. I started out of position and had some fun coming back through the field, but I don’t want all of my races to be like that. I like boring races too so I’m hoping for a cleaner and smoother weekend in Japan.”
“In the first stint I was struggling to get past Daniil and Pierre and it took me a long time. The downforce loss is immense when you’re following in a train of cars which I think is because the track is designed a bit like a street circuit.”
“Up to the race it had been a tough weekend but I’m getting more comfortable. I just need to get up to speed and in a rhythm earlier on in the weekend, but that will come with more laps and time in the car.”
“With the exception of Abu Dhabi, all of the remaining tracks will be new for me so Suzuka will be difficult, but I like new tracks!”
MCLAREN – 2019 Russian Grand Prix
Carlos Sainz: “Very good race. A great start and a very solid execution from everyone today. It was great to fight the Mercedes into Turn Two, which was one of my targets today.”
“From then on I could control the race and I had good pace all the way through, even though it was impossible to hold both Red Bulls.”
“This was not an easy weekend for us, but we managed to put it together and take another best of the rest finish.”
“Great performance from the whole team and double points again. Congratulations!”
Lando Norris: “Today has been a positive day for the team with good points. Carlos and I both made good starts and gained positions.”
“My first stint was reasonably good with decent pace, but then the VSC after my pit stop shook things up.”
“Cars came out of the pits from the VSC who were slower, preventing me from pushing as much as I wanted to, and then I was vulnerable to cars behind on fresher tyres.”
“It was tough to keep the Renault and Racing Point behind. But overall a good weekend with more points for the team, a good reward for their hard work.”
RENAULT – 2019 Russian Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo: “Unfortunately, our race was pretty much over from the start. I had too much damage on the car to carry on, which is a shame.”
“It was a bit chaotic through Turn 2 and I had the inside line for Turn 4 where I thought I was safe. I got hit and had a puncture and damage to the floor.”
“I’ll look at it with the perspective that if I qualify higher up the grid then I’m less likely to be in the bad stuff. I’ll take responsibility for that, but in terms of the accident, I was just a passenger…”
Nico Hulkenberg: “It was a frustrating race as the car deserved to be better than tenth.”
“Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong today: a poor start, a slow pit-stop and an unfortunate VSC timing. It’s disappointing as the potential was there for a better result.”
“I felt comfortable in the car all weekend, and it had been fairly solid, so to leave with one point is a little frustrating.”
“The midfield is bunched up and it’s going to be like that for the rest of the season.”
“It’ll be nip and tuck throughout and we need to ensure we’re getting the maximum from races.”