What the teams said - Race day in Russia

Special Contributor

Becky Hart


Hamilton didn’t get a perfect start, opting to take it easy and keep out of trouble, dropping to seventh in the process. But he kept his head down and ran a long first stint, passing when necessary which saw him emerge from the pit stop period with an eight-second deficit to Norris, with those two looking set to slug it out for the win. Hamilton had closed to within a second when the rain came, and initially looked set to stay out. But the team wisely brought him in and it paid off, as Norris slid off track leaving the coast clear for Hamilton to sail past and win for the 100th time in Formula 1. As for Bottas, he started down the back and wasn’t making much headway. But an early swap to inters catapulted him back up the field into a surprisingly decent fifth place.

READ MORE: 100-time GP winner Hamilton insists Norris has ‘many wins ahead’ after McLaren man is denied maiden victory in Russia

Lewis Hamilton, 1st

"Wow... 100! It's taken a long time and I wasn't even sure the 100th would come! Going to bed last night I wasn't the happiest with the job I did yesterday. I watched the replay over and over again; they were subtle mistakes but I was so determined to put things right when I woke up this morning.

"Today was tough - I lost a lot of ground at the start, just trying to stay out of trouble. I was patient and at the end, when the rain came, I didn't want to let Lando go by boxing. Of course I didn't know what the rain was doing, it was just my feeling but I'm incredibly grateful to the strategy team for the job they did today. Getting anywhere near 100 victories wouldn't be possible without the hard work of the men and women here and back at the factory, I'm so grateful to them - it just feels so special.

"Lando did an amazing job today, he had incredible pace and he's doing such a great job for McLaren. It was bittersweet to see my old team ahead, they're doing so well powered by Mercedes and it's good to see them united again. Max did a good job to come up from second to last, the battle continues and we know we need to be on top form over the remaining races."

Valtteri Bottas, 5th

"Firstly, congrats to Lewis on the win and his 100th victory. From my side, it was a difficult race and not an easy day, but the situation at the end with the rain saved it for me. Before that, I was struggling to progress through the field. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be, because I just couldn't follow through the corners - I was getting big understeer. I couldn't carry the speed and get close enough to overtake, and other cars were finding it easier to follow closely. Then the rain arrived, I wanted to stop one lap earlier but the team wasn't quite ready, but we were still one of the first cars to stop, which was good. I managed to climb up the order and score some good points, which is positive after a tricky day."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Those final few laps were so intense, but we managed to make the right calls and lead the field across the finish line. A big congratulations to Lewis on his 100th win. What we are witnessing is just mind-blowing. It'll be talked about for the next few days, but it'll only be years down the line when we realise that we've all been part of this journey. A journey no other driver in F1 history has done so far. That's beyond race wins and championship victories, that is the very human part of all this.

"In terms of the race, I think it would have been difficult to get past Norris in the dry, as Lewis struggled to overtake Ricciardo even with DRS. Norris managed the race very well, who knows what would have happened if the rain hadn't arrived, but it did. This kind of decision is hugely difficult, it started to drizzle on half of the circuit, but we made the call and it paid off. We'd made the call a little bit earlier with Valtteri, and that brought him into contention after a challenging race and he did a great job to move up the field and into the top five. A big well done to the entire team for all their work and efforts, it's been a little while since we had a race victory but I know results like this will fire everyone up even more to keep pushing until the end of the season."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"Congratulations to Lewis on his 100th win, it's an incredible achievement and hopefully he can find time over the next few days to enjoy it. Obviously the end of the race was quite exciting, the team stayed calm and reacted well to the conditions and ultimately that's what gave us the win. Prior to the rain it was quite a tough race, Lewis lost places at the start after getting boxed in at turn 2 and Valtteri had a good start but struggled to make progress through the traffic, especially when stuck in a DRS train. We'd managed to get Lewis up to second and it would have been a straight fight with Lando in the dry but we were actually hoping for the rain as it felt like that would be our best chance of making it to the top step.

"Valtteri was further back at the time it started so we decided to switch to intermediates early and that paid off, gaining some good points in the process. Overall, a solid team performance and it's put us back in front in both championships so we're happy with that but Max covered very well today from a PU penalty, finishing just one place behind, so we know we need to be at our very best in the coming races to have a chance of bringing the Championships home."

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Lars Baron - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Red Bull

Verstappen was able to make his way through the field after starting last, but took the life out of his tyres in doing so. He was struggling on the medium compound and looked set for a lowly points finish when the rain arrived. With little to lose, the team pitted him for inters early and he was able to scythe his way up to an incredible second. As for Perez, he ran a long first stint and was set for a brilliant podium until the last few laps. He tried to hang it out on the slick tyres, and lost a handful of places when he pitted for the inters a lap too late.

READ MORE: Verstappen says ‘perfect call’ to switch tyres was key to P2 finish after recovery drive from last

Max Verstappen, 2nd

“Wow, we will definitely take that result! Of course to come from last to second is very good and when I woke up this morning I definitely didn’t expect this result. To finish where we did with the penalty we had, we didn’t lose as many points as we could have so as a team we did a really good job. It was a crucial call to change to the inters, it was really slippery on track and we made a great decision with the timing and took the right lap to pit. A lot of things can happen when you’re starting from the back of the grid, especially on the first lap when other cars are fighting each other, but we stayed out of trouble, kept it clean, and managed our race very well. The race itself was not very easy, it was difficult to pass other cars and once you got stuck it was easy to damage your tyres but luckily in the end the rain helped us make the last jump in positions.”

Sergio Perez, 9th

“We were on for a podium today so I decided to take the risk in staying out on the slicks instead of pitting for inters. In the first and third sector it was pretty dry and you could get temperature into the tyres, so if it then dried up those of us on the slicks would have made it work and those on the inters would have seen their race destroyed. In hindsight the slick wasn’t the right tyre and ultimately the timing of the rain in the race meant some people got lucky today and others didn’t. We were on for a great result with a podium through pure merit and despite a slow pit stop we still managed to come through the field to third but sometimes this is how racing is. The issue with the stop wasn’t a human error and I spoke with my pit crew after the race to check they were okay because we’re obviously all disappointed. As a team we still walk away with a lot of points today and yes, it is frustrating for me, but I feel like I got so much out of the car which is only promising going to Turkey in two weeks’ time.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“Today’s result in recovering from 20th to 2nd is an amazing performance. Our congratulations must go to Lewis on his 100th victory, but second for us after taking our grid penalty feels like a victory. With six or seven laps to go it didn’t look like it was going to be possible. In tricky weather conditions like we had today, you can very easily come out looking like a hero or zero. It’s such a tough call knowing whether to pit or not and the drivers see and feel so much more out on track compared with the engineers on the pit wall, and so the decision was left to Max and Checo on stopping for inters or not.

"In the end Max got it right and nailed the call to come in, and benefitted massively as a result whilst Checo decided not to pit and ended up losing out significantly, but these things can happen and luck also has its part to play. You could see Sergio wasn’t alone with the guys out front that tried to brave it out being so close to the end of the race, but ultimately it didn’t work out.

"The last two venues have historically been very strong for Mercedes so to come away only two points behind in the Drivers’ Championship is positive, and I’m glad we’ve got our power unit penalty out of the way here and managed to recover with a podium. Everybody in the team is really enjoying this championship, we’ve got ourselves back into a competitive position and it’s going to be all about these final seven races, getting the strategy right, having the pace, and penalties are going to play a role too. It’s going to be fascinating to see how it unfolds. Looking ahead to Turkey, it was an interesting race with the new surface last year. Hopefully it has weathered in now but we’re really looking forward to it and today’s result sets everything up in the championship up nicely. It’s going to be a phenomenal competition.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Sainz had a brilliant start and jumped Norris, leading for the first few laps. But his tyres started to suffer graining, not the first time Ferrari have seen this issue this season. An early pit stop dropped him down the field and although he worked his way back to third, his tyres were losing grip and he looked set to drop down the order. The rain arrived at a fortuitous moment, enabling him to get rid of his worn tyres and come home for a hard-fought podium. Leclerc, like Perez, ran a very long first stint after starting down the back of the field. He looked good for some solid points but changed to the intermediate rubber far too late after running off and nearly crashing, which cost him a top-10 finish.

READ MORE: ‘It looked like it was going wrong’ – Sainz survives late rain at Sochi to secure third podium for Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, 15th

"What a disappointing end to an otherwise extremely positive race! I had a good start, gaining a few positions. Everything looked really promising, I made lots of overtakes and my pace was strong.

"Things suddenly changed when it started to rain at the very end of the race. Carlos was ahead and decided to pit for Inters, while I still had some doubts. I tried to do another lap on slicks, hoping that the rain would decrease. But it started pouring down and it was just impossible to go on without pitting with two laps to go. That was basically the end of my race, which is a real shame. A good job from the team and Carlos to bring home a third place today."

Carlos Sainz, 3rd

"This was a tricky but positive weekend for me, with a good quali and a strong race where I gave absolutely everything. We made a perfect start from the dirty side, braking late into turn 2 and risking it on the outside of Lando to get into the lead. Unfortunately we suffered from graining and couldn’t hold P1 for much longer and had to pit early.

"After the first stop, we had a very good stint, managing the Hard tyre in traffic and then pushing in clean air, on course for a reasonably comfortable P3 before the rain came and made everything a lot trickier. With the used Hard it was clear to me we needed to box for Inters and together with the team we made the right decision at the right moment, regaining P3!

"It’s a happy podium but I think as a team we need to keep analysing what we can do better to make sure next time a Ferrari is leading we are less vulnerable. We’ve got some time before the next race so we will keep pushing."

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal

"That was a very intense and difficult race today, which ended with one of our drivers on the podium. Carlos had a great weekend, both yesterday in qualifying and today in the race and third place is a nice reward for all the hard work. Charles leaves empty handed at the end of a weekend which started on the back foot because of the penalty, but today he once again proved just how talented he is. He made a great start, had really strong race pace and showed the right amount of aggression for the overtaking moves.

"We know that as a team we must always try and improve in every area. Here, we introduced an update to the hybrid system for the power unit, which worked the way we had expected and produced a little bit more performance. However, we were not perfect in other areas, for example the pit stops and tyre management with Charles in those final chaotic moments of the race, whereas with Carlos everything went according to plan and we will build on the experience gained today."

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Just not to be. Norris lost out on the first lap but drove a well measured race to retake the lead from his former team mate Sainz on track, pit at the optimum moment and manage his pace respective to the then chasing Hamilton behind. He looked set for a first victory until the rain came. With Hamilton pitting, Norris had no choice then but to stay out and hope to crawl around for the win – but instead slithered off track to see his dreams of a first victory disappear in the spray. He nearly didn’t even make it into the pits, sliding across the pit lane entry and being let off by the stewards for crossing the white line. As for Ricciardo, he was making excellent progress but was derailed by a slow pit stop. He did opt to swap to the inters early though, which helped him to a decent fourth overall.

READ MORE: ‘Everything was under control’ – Devastated Norris convinced win was on without late rain in Sochi

Daniel Ricciardo, 4th

“Pretty eventful race. Sometimes this track doesn’t provide that, but this weekend it did with both quali and the race. There was a lot that happened. I think my start was kinda too good! I had to pull out and then pull back in, so we lost a few positions there, but then made a few back over the first lap. So, there were some good moments. I defended pretty well in the first stint, then in the second stint made a few good passes, but then struggled towards the end of that Hard tyre.

“Then the rain came, and that’s when it all turned on its head. The in-lap was sketchy. I think Carlos [Sainz] went off in Turn Seven, then me, then Max [Verstappen]. I think Max saw both of us and just went off less and was able to pass there. Then we got out on the Inters and I could see Carlos ahead – the last couple of laps I felt like I was bringing him in a bit, but it was a little too late. I just missed the podium, but P4 is a solid result. Good points and, I think, for those tricky conditions, it’s always nice just to get out with your nose clean. There are definitely some positives and personally still a few things to work on, so we’ll keep our head down.”

Lando Norris, 7th

"It wasn't the race or the result we wanted in the end. I made a good start and we had a good first stint. Right at the end when the rain started, we made the call not to box and that cost us everything. We made the decision that was right at the time for the conditions at the time. It was my call, along with the information from the team, and together we need to review what we could've done better. It's incredibly disappointing of course, because we've been strong all weekend and I felt comfortable with the pace and the car today. The team has done a great job and I want to thank them for all their hard work. Of course, the result is not a reflection of our weekend, but there are a lot of positive we can take, and now we need to analyse, reset and bounce back in Turkey.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal

“We are, of course, disappointed with finishing P4 and P7 in the Russian Grand Prix today, given the positions we were in three laps from the end of the race. On the positive side, both Lando, Daniel and the whole team put in strong performances all weekend, which is highly encouraging going into the last third of the season. Thanks to the team at track and back at the factory, along with our colleagues at Mercedes HPP, for their hard work and effort.

“Attention will no doubt be given to the decision to stay out on the slicks with Lando, while we went on Intermediate tyres relatively soon with Daniel. There were tricky calls to be made at the end of the race when it started raining, and that’s never easy. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out on Lando’s side today. As always, we’ll analyse this as a team, together with the drivers, learn from it and come back stronger.

“Finally, congratulations to Lewis on his historic 100th win. Everyone at McLaren Racing is proud of what he has achieved since his first race with us 14 years ago.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1 kneels in support of the We Race As One initiative before the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Alonso had a good race, running a long opening stint and using all his considerable experience to keep a quicker Verstappen at bay. After the first pit stops, the Spaniard did one better and overtook the Dutchman on merit, and looked set for sixth. Somehow despite all the rain-induced chaos, that is exactly where he finished, despite briefly rising to the podium places. Ocon was one of a handful of drivers to pit early which wasn’t the preferred strategy in the end. He also didn’t change to inters in good time, which dropped him further down the field.

Esteban Ocon, 14th

“It was not a good race for us today and, in general, we haven’t had the pace all weekend. It’s disappointing, of course, not to score points, especially when there was an opportunity at the end with the wet conditions. We didn’t make the right decision at the end and it was a risk to stay out on track on dry tyres. It’s one of those days we have to forget, and we’ll move on, analyse what happened, and come back stronger for the next race.”

Fernando Alonso, 6th

“We finished sixth, but I think third place is more of a true reflection of our finishing position today. It all came down to luck in the end with the rain coming so late on. It was like a flip of a coin. Some cars stopped one lap earlier and I was in third position when it really started to rain. It was impossible to predict. Nevertheless, sixth is a good result for us and we deserved it. We looked competitive throughout the race, so there are lots of positives to take away.”

Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director

“A bittersweet feeling today; we took home eight points, but we missed an opportunity to finish on the podium. We decided to start the cars on different strategies, with Fernando starting on hard tyres with the objective of stopping later in the race and potentially benefit from Safety Cars or any rain coming.

"Both drivers had a good first stint, with Esteban stopping earlier on the mediums. Unfortunately, he ran out of grip in the later stages of the race on the hard tyres. Fernando managed his tyres well and had very good pace right until the rain started to fall. At this stage, the challenge was to predict whether it would get heavier or go away, which is a bit of a lottery. Fernando was making positions on the dry tyres in the light rain and we decided to leave him out; had the rain intensity reduced we would have likely finished P2, but unfortunately it went the other way and we pitted him a lap too late.

"It was a similar story with Esteban: as he was outside of the points, we had to take a gamble: pit early for Intermediates or leave him out on the dry tyres, we opted for the latter and did not luck in. We’re leaving Sochi with eight points while our closest rivals didn’t score any, so overall a good result for the championship even if we feel we missed out on a better result today.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Alpine A521 Renault during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Lars Baron - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Giovinazzi didn’t feature overly much in the thick of the action, although he does get the distinction of being one of the last to box for the intermediate tyres as he came home down the order. In his defence, the Italian did struggle with no race radio throughout. As for Raikkonen, it looked like a steady race for him until he made the call to switch to the inters early doors, at the same time as Russell and Bottas. That decision helped those three all rise through the field into the points, with the Finn recording his best result of the season.

Kimi Raikkonen, 8th

“It was a good result we fought hard for. We could keep up with our rivals in the dry but passing them was not easy, especially in the DRS trains. In the end, we made the right call on the tyres: I thought it was getting too wet and we chose to box, which really helped us in the end. We did the best we could and we have some points to show for it.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 16th

“It was an eventful race with lots going on. I was hit in Turn 2 and I lost a few places there: in addition, I was without radio from the first lap, so it was impossible to communicate with the team. It has been a difficult afternoon, especially when the rain started at the end of the race and I couldn’t talk to the pits about the tyre change. I’m pleased for the team’s result, but I’m already looking forward to Turkey.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

"The race ended up being very exciting and we head home with a good haul of points. Despite a difficult Saturday, we entered the race with some quiet optimism as we knew we would be in a position to fight. Kimi had a good start to jump to P10, while Antonio was hit and had to recover from the back. He was in a few good fights and made some nice overtaking moves –all the more so as he had no radio. Kimi was able to stay with Ocon for most of the race, just outside the points, and when the rain came we made the right call to stop for inters. He was able to make up ground and cross the line in P8, four good points for the team. It’s a good result, a reward for the job we have done so far and a confidence boost ahead of the next race in Turkey, in two weeks.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy driving the (99) Alfa Romeo Racing C41 Ferrari leads Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Lars Baron - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Latifi called it a day towards the end of the race, after crashing in the wet conditions and damaging his car. As for Russell, he held onto third for the opening portion of the race, but was one of many to pit early. He began to lose places to fastest cars recovering from back of the grid starts, but was clinging onto the tail of the points when the heavens opened. As one of the first three cars to dive into the pits for inters, he judged the call to perfection and was able to hold onto P10 for his fourth points finish in five races.

READ MORE: Russian GP Facts & Stats - Mercedes remain unbeaten in Russia, as Hamilton hits F1 century

George Russell, 10th

"I thought we had a really strong race today. We held our own and made no silly mistakes and that was our Grand Prix throughout. We held third for the first 12 laps and it was quite fun fighting for this position, trying to keep cars like the McLaren, the Mercedes’, and the Aston Martin behind and we have to be proud of this. I struggled at the end on the intermediate tyre as I was on a used set having gone through all of our sets in qualifying yesterday. In the end, it is another point on the board so we will take it. It wasn’t the dream result but before the weekend if we’d have been offered 10th and another point, we would have taken it. Overall, I think it was a good race."

Nicholas Latifi, DNF

"Unfortunately, I got caught out on the slicks at the end of the race when it started raining and made a mistake. I couldn’t slow down so spun at Turn 7 and clipped the barrier which damaged the rear wing. At that point, there was nothing to play for and it made more sense to retire the car. It was a frustrating race because the car felt very nice to drive, possibly the nicest it’s felt, but I couldn’t make much progress at the beginning of the race or follow closely to the Haas in front during the key areas of the track. It’s unfortunate, because the prime tyre felt good and I think if we’d started higher up we could have maintained position and got a stronger result, but that’s how it goes sometimes."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"We went into today’s race hoping to hold on at the front but fearing that the quicker cars behind would make our race difficult. We had a reasonable start but couldn’t make the progress before turn two that we had hoped to do. Nonetheless, George was able to settle into a good rhythm and hold P3 without the leaders getting too far ahead. On the prime, George did another fantastic job of managing the car and we were set for a points finish in the dry. The shower that came across the circuit towards the end presented an opportunity for George and we called the switch to intermediate tyres well. Unfortunately, following a very successful qualifying session yesterday, we had only used tyres left and so we had to fight hard to hold on to 10th place.

"Another points finish is an excellent result and fair reward for the hard work throughout the team. It is a shame that Nicholas had to retire but following damage to the car when he was on his in-lap for intermediates, we had to retire him. Until that point, he was doing very well and showing excellent pace. Sadly, his grid penalty stopped him from using that raw pace to get into a points-scoring position and then he was simply unfortunate with where he was on the track as the rain began to intensify.

"The Sochi Autodrom is always a challenging place to race and we are pleased with our return on what could’ve been a very difficult weekend. The team operated very well throughout and both drivers showed some excellent pace. Another Championship point moves us closer to Aston Martin and limits the damage in our tight battle with Alfa Romeo.

"Finally, it was a privilege to see Lewis score his 100th career victory; an incredible achievement even for a driver of Lewis’s immense ability and dedication. Congratulations to him and his entire team."

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Nicholas Latifi of Canada driving the (6) Williams Racing FW43B Mercedes during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Stroll had the best start of the field, spotting an opportunistic gap to jump up to fourth. He pitted first, which helped him undercut Russell but then started to suffer with tyre wear and looked likely to need a second stop as he dropped back through the field. But then the rain came, and neither Aston Martin driver pitted which left them squabbling on the same part of the track. They banged wheels which in the conditions, with the walls ominously close was a heart in mouth moment Stroll then ran wide, and tangled with Gasly as he re-joined the track which earned him a time penalty and points on his licence.

Sebastian Vettel, 12th

“In the early part of the race it was not easy to make much progress in the train of cars, but when the rain came in the final few laps the race became a lottery. It felt like a 50/50 call as to whether we should pit for intermediate tyres. It felt like the rain would stay light, so we stayed out, but then it became much heavier and caught us out. So we had to pit in the end and fit intermediates, which dropped us down the order. When you have rain late in the race it can give you a big opportunity, but it did not go our way today. I think it was an entertaining race for the fans and I am happy for Lewis to have won his 100th Grand Prix: a huge achievement and well deserved today.”

Lance Stroll, 11th

“It is a real shame that the change in weather cost us a strong chance of a good result and plenty of points. In hindsight, stopping one lap earlier for intermediates could have changed our race, but it is always hard to judge when the conditions are evolving. I made the call for us to stay out and try to make it to the end, so it is down to me. It is even more disappointing considering we made a great start and got up to fourth in what was a really enjoyable battle in the first few corners. We made the undercut on George [Russell] later on, which worked out nicely, but the second stint on the hard tyre was made more challenging by the DRS train of cars ahead, which always hurts the tyres, and then it rained. It became very slippery out there and I did not see Sebastian alongside me. We will learn from today and move on to Turkey in a few weeks’ time.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO

“Lance made a fantastic start to move up to fourth place on Lap 1, and he held that position comfortably on the medium tyres until we brought him in for hards on Lap 12 – the first tyre stop of the race. He then managed his tyres well in very difficult conditions, until the heavens opened a few laps from the end, which made the last part of the race something of a lottery. There was almost no grip at all, and he and Sebastian even made contact at one point, but the track surface was incredibly slippery and both our drivers did their very best. The result was ultimately a disappointing one for us – 11th and 12th – but, when it rains suddenly like that, luck often plays as big a part as judgment. Finally, on behalf of all of us at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team, I would like to say a big congrats to Lewis [Hamilton]. To win 100 Grands Prix is a truly extraordinary achievement. Well done!”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Lance Stroll of Canada driving the (18) Aston Martin AMR21 Mercedes makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


Just not their weekend. Both drivers lost places in a messy first couple of corners on the opening lap, with Tsunoda dropping all the way to P20. From there it looked like Gasly might recover to the points after a long first stint, but he gambled on staying out on the medium tyre as the rain fell – the wrong call as it turned out. Tsunoda made even more of a curious choice, as he came in once the drizzle started for a set of softs. While theoretically they would have had more grip than his used tyres, with the rain intensifying, he was forced to box for a third time and came home towards the rear of the field.

Pierre Gasly, 13th

“It’s not been a great weekend for us really, we missed a big opportunity yesterday in qualifying and again today we made the wrong decision with the slicks, which unfortunately means we finished out of the points. The pace was strong here and I think we had a good first stint, but we just didn’t utilise all the opportunities given to us this weekend, which is a real shame. We need to review everything from today and work out how we make the most out of these conditions in the future. It’s a weekend to forget, but we’ve got a good team and I’m confident we can bounce back at the next one.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 17th

“It’s obviously a disappointing day. I’ve struggled with the balance of the car all weekend and it was the same today in the race, especially on the first lap where it was hard to keep it on the track. I just need to reset after this weekend and work on my baseline performance, so I can start finishing in the points again.”

Claudio Balestri, Chief Engineer – Vehicle Performance

“Today the target was to score points and we didn’t. In the first lap we immediately lost positions with both cars but for the rest of the race, when we were free of traffic, the pace of the car was quite good. To maximise the possibility to score points, we decided to split the strategy across the cars, with Pierre going long on the first stint with the hards, then swapping to the mediums. Whilst with Yuki we did the opposite, starting him on the mediums.

"However, with just six laps to go, some light rain arrived and the track became slippery. Some cars pitted for Inters but we decided to stick with dry tyres – leaving Pierre out and calling Yuki in for softs – as we believed the rain wouldn’t continue and we could capitalise on this opportunity. Unfortunately, the gamble didn’t pay off and the rain became far heavier, so we were forced to pit for inters. We now need to go home and analyse what we could have done better in such tricky weather conditions.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)


Not to be for Schumacher in Russia as a hydraulics issue forced his retirement midway through the race. Up until then, he had been looking punchy after a poor start, swapping places with his team mate on a number of occasions. Speaking of, Mazepin gathered some decent experience in the tricky conditions, keeping his car in one piece to the chequered flag despite the next to non-existent grip levels, in what was a mature display.

Mick Schumacher, DNF

“We obviously had an issue and we were trying to fix it out on track but didn’t manage. It is what it is, we live and we learn and it’s Formula 1 – so things can happen. It’s my first retirement this year and I was certainly hoping it would take some more time, or not happen at all this year but it’s a part of the game. We were very good in terms of pace and the car felt really good out there. We’ll take away the positives, analyse them and take them on to Turkey.”

Nikita Mazepin, 18th

“It was a long race – loads of things happening. I had a very good first opening lap and then did my best to hold the faster cars behind using the battery cleverly, which I think I did well. Then after we boxed, came out on hard tyres, I still tried to keep the cars behind and obviously one overtook me, and then I had a lock-up and unfortunately for us when the hard tyres lock-up, they don’t ever come back. We as a team made a good call to go on to inters, I was one of the very first cars and gained quite a bit of time back. It was fun to overtake some cars that I would never be able to overtake. Nevertheless, we know where we stand and now eyes forward on to the next race.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“We had a good race start with both cars. Nikita in the first part of the race had good pace, keeping a few other cars behind. Mick’s start was not fantastic, but he got out after his tyre change and was very strong and then unfortunately he had a hydraulic issue, losing pressure. Nikita – once the blue flags started – the tyres got cold and he struggled to keep the pace, that was the reason. In the end we got one car to the end and we come back.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Mick Schumacher of Germany driving the (47) Haas F1 Team VF-21 Ferrari during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

"After yesterday's wet conditions, the rain held off until the final few laps – and it decided the race. Up until then, the drivers had made the most of dry conditions with maximum tyre freedom, as they could choose their starting tyres and they all had a full unused allocation of slicks. The 'reset' track following the rain led to a bit of sliding and graining at the start of the race, but this was soon overcome. The hard tyre's resistance to abrasion proved very well suited to the conditions, with some very long stints of more than 35 laps, while the medium also did 28 laps in the hands of Lando Norris. Ultimately though, it was the intermediate tyre that made the difference, with the teams able to use their experience from a wet qualifying to extract the maximum performance from it when it mattered at the end."

RACE HIGHLIGHTS: Catch up on all the action from a dramatic Russian Grand Prix at Sochi


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