Race Weekend Central

F1 Midweek: The Big Stories After the Russian Grand Prix

It’s time for a roundup of the stories grabbing headlines in the world of Formula 1. After its stop in Sochi, Russia, the sport takes a one-week hiatus where Valtteri Bottas earned his second win of the 2020 season.

While the drivers’ standings may have tightened a little, the constructors’ title is now looking like an affair that will be decided in short order.  Mercedes added to its total and is leaving Red Bull with virtually no chance of challenging for the top spot. The third-place position appears to be the one up for grabs between four teams.

Constructors’ points after Russian Grand Prix

Mercedes 366 Behind
Red Bull 192 – 174
McLaren 106 – 260
Racing Point 104 – 262
Renault 99 – 267
Ferrari 74 – 292
AlphaTauri 59 – 307
Alfa Romeo 4 – 362
Haas F1 1 – 365
Williams 0  :(

McLaren somehow is holding onto third even after scoring no points at the Russian GP. Racing Point is lurking just a scant two points behind them, but their season has been uneven, a frequent mix of solid and frustrating results. Renault, currently holding down fifth, is showing increased speed and might be the team to best both McLaren and Racing Point and walk away with third.

This competition between the three teams makes the midfield battles all the more fascinating to watch. If Lewis Hamilton is going to waltz away with another title and a handful of wins this season, having something to watch other than his greatness is important in recognizing the other storylines on the grid and how finishing third offers a substantial monetary reward and optimism for next year’s performance.

Odds & Sods

– In the soap opera that is As Lewis Hamilton Turns, the latest storyline involved his anger in response to the FIA penalizing him with two five-second penalties after performing two practices starts on the track before the Russian GP. Basically, after leaving pit lane, Hamilton then gave two attempts at a standing start.

“They’re trying to stop me, aren’t they?” Hamilton questioned with an air of defiance. His retort could not have been more delightful. That is to say that the persecution that Hamilton feels offers insight into the chip he carries and how it ignores any benefits he has enjoyed.

That he also said, “I’m pretty sure no one’s got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before,” is also laughable. If there’s one thing that the FIA has been consistent with this year, it is its glee in handing out five-second penalties to anyone and everyone for anything.

At this point, to stop Hamilton, the FIA would have to start with inspections that keep him from the track, like pulling him off to check his seatbelts or what shampoo he used at the start of a GP.

To his credit, Hamilton stated on Monday that he is “only human” and “may not always get it right.”

Mick Schumacher will make his F1 debut at the Eifel GP, the next race on the calendar.

A quick aside: What a confusing name for the race, especially one taking place at the Nürburgring.  Is this naming meant to confuse everyone?  Who’s the prankster that came up with this one? Sure, this Eifel has one F compared to the Eiffel Tower’s two, but that can’t be distinguished when hearing it. Turns out that the Eifel GP is an homage to the Eifelrennen, the races that used to happen in the Eifel Mountains before the Nürburgring was built. The first time that someone said the Eifel GP, the thought of watching F1 cars rip through the streets of Paris became a dreamy thought. Too bad, settle for The Ring.

Back to the story: Schumacher, the progeny of seven-time champion and 91-race win Michael Schumacher, will be taking to The Ring for FP1 for Alfa Romeo. What a statement: Schumacher, driving for the Italian team with ties to Ferrari in his home country.  It looks like a beautiful maneuver, sentimental and bold.

Of course, Callum Ilott, another Ferrari development driver, will also be getting an FP1 session but in a Haas car, similarly powered by Ferrari.

Schumacher and Ilott are both in the throes of challenging for the FP2 title and moving to F1.  While seats may open at Haas or Alfa Romeo, the apparent intention is for one to make the move to Ferrari at some point, likely taking the seat that will be occupied by Carlos Sainz next year.

Sergio Perez still does not have a job. After being released by Racing Point to make room for Sebastian Vettel, the Mexican driver has become a forgotten talent. As many teams have locked up their driver lineup for next year, the available opportunities become less.

While rumors once had Perez going to Red Bull to replace the enigmatic Alex Albon, that no longer seems to be the case as Albon is likely to return.

The two spots that have come to the fore recently have been Alfa Romeo and Haas. While both are a step backward for Perez, they might be his best hopes for remaining on the F1 grid. The Alfa Romeo idea may have the best potential. He could be paired with a young driver and work in tandem as the veteran to help foster growth while also being able to shake down the car.

The other idea that has been thrown about is a move to INDYCAR, driving for McLaren. With other F1 drivers jumping into the series over the past few years, such a decision might turn out to be a decent one with a better chance for success.

About the author

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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