The competition between Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) is getting fiercer after the series in Sochi, Russia. In the temporary standings, Hamilton, who won the F1 Russian GP, is at the top of the temporary standings with a total of 246.5 points.
Meanwhile, Verstappen, who finished in second place, was closely tied to Hamilton in the temporary standings with a total of 244.5 points. The difference of only 2 points makes the rivalry between the two even more fierce with the remaining seven race series this season.
Racing in Sochi presents a drama with a dramatic ending. Lando Norris (McLaren) who leads the race and has the chance to win his first F1 race must accept the harsh reality. Heavy rain that flushed the circuit in the remaining four laps of the last shattered Norris dreams.
When the rival behind him entered the pits and changed the intermediate tires (wet tires), Norris forced to go with slick tires (dry tires). As a result, he was unable to control his car and almost hit the wall at the first corner.
While behind him, Hamilton continued to cut the distance, and finally passed Norris smoothly.
Just before the last two laps Norris entered the pits and changed the wet tires. His position continued to sag and finally finished in 7th position. “Of course I’m not very happy, but this can happen in a race,” said Norris as reported by the official Formula1 .com website after the race.
“On the track, I decided to keep going (in the rain), and the team supported me. But in the end the rain got bigger and the result was not as expected. Of course I take full responsibility for the decisions on the track,” he said.
Meanwhile, Red Bull is betting on a power unit change made to Verstappen’s car. Although this led to a penalty that made the Dutch racer have to start from the rear position (P20). This is the fourth power unit replacement in the Honda car that Verstappen drives.
The Red Bull team’s decision certainly made Hamilton like above the clouds, and looked like he would win the race easily. Although in reality, Hamilton also struggled from the qualifying session to the race.
Max Verstappen admitted that he was very happy with the team’s decision when he called him into the pits to change the intermediate tires. “Very happy with the result (P2), and the call to pit for a tire change was spot on,” said Verstappen.
Verstappen’s struggles from P20, while Hamilton started the race from P4, to finally make the Dutch racer able to finish in P2 earned a lot of praise. Moreover, in the last 10 laps Verstappen’s position was still in 7th place. The team’s right decision to ask him to change tires allowed Verstappen to finish in P2 and maintain his rivalry with Hamilton.“If you were going to tell me this morning that I would be second today, I wouldn’t believe you. But luckily the call to switch from slick to inters (wet tires) was the perfect one in my opinion, the right lap… [So] very happy for this ,” he said.
“When it rains I think at the end of the day we made the right calls and the right laps to fight ,” added Verstappen .
Max admits that previously there was an earlier consideration to replace the wet tires, but if it was done two laps earlier it was very likely that it would destroy the tires themselves. “The team was right to call me to change tires. From 7th position, and finished P2,” he said.
Hamilton said he was happy to win in Sochi. This result also maintains a record of 100 percent of Mercedes wins in Sochi since it was first held in 2014. Five of them were won by Hamilton. “I just want to say a big thank you to all these fans; we have amazing fans here. I know it’s not the best weather, but it was a great race. So, a big thank you to everyone in Russia for having us. It took a long time to get to [winning number] 100 and I’m not even sure if it will come or not ,” Hamilton said.