Sergio Perez became the ninth different Driver of the Weekend poll winner this year after taking Force India’s first podium finish of the season.
It was Perez’s first Driver of the Weekend win since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix.
But some of the other promising performers last weekend were doomed not to finish the race for reasons beyond their control.
Sergio Perez’s Russian Grand Prix weekend
At a circuit which places a premium on power, Mercedes engines helped the Force India pair to sixth and seventh on the grid. It was Nico Hulkenberg who came out on top, shading Perez by just 32 thousandths of a seconds.
Hulkenberg’s lap one retirement meant we never got to see if they’d have been as close in the race, but Perez kept out of trouble to run sixth in the early stint.
This meant he was well-placed to take a gamble when the safety car appeared after Romain Grosjean crashed his car at turn three. Tyre conservation has traditionally been a strength of Perez’s, which Force India no doubt had in mind when they hauled him for an early pit stop.
When the leaders pitted later on Perez briefly found himself running second, but was soon demoted by Vettel. However with Daniel Ricciardo behind keeping Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen at bay, Perez was able to focus on nursing his rubber.
It was only in the final laps that Bottas behind started to pressurise him. Urged on by his team, Perez tenaciously kept Bottas at bay until the penultimate lap. But when the Williams driver was given access to the Mercedes most powerful ‘mode one’ setting, Perez found himself easily passed in one of the DRS zones. Making matters worse, Raikkonen followed Bottas by as well.
Perez started the final lap in fifth place thinking his podium chances had gone but Raikkonen’s optimistic lunge at Bottas promoted him back into third place – his and Force India’s best result since Bahrain last year.
But it has to Perez for me this week (even when out-qualified by the Hulk). Perez had a great Sunday, managing his tyres for I believe 41 laps, and keeping the Fins behind him for many of those laps when his tyres were almost gone.
So it’s Perez- Had a lot of tyre saving to do, and pulled it off superbly. Needed some luck to take back the podium but he had no business holding onto 3rd in a Force India on such worn tyres until the penultimate lap.
Easily Perez for me. He was within 2 laps of gaining 3rd purely on merit, a remarkable feat for a Force India.
Perez for me. Him and Force India did what other midfield teams (Williams for example) so frequently don’t do – gave themselves a chance to outperform rather than taking the safety first option. Solid drive, clearly lots of management going on, and a bit of luck when he needed it. I’d still have been tempted to vote for him had he finished fifth.
Russian Grand Prix winners and losers
Nico Rosberg was arguably the most hard-done-by driver in Russia: he comfortably beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position – something he has usually struggled to do this year – and had won the all-important lap one duel with his team mate when his W06 let him down.
Yet he received just 1.5% of your votes:
I nearly went for Bottas but went for Rosberg.
Beat Hamilton in qualifying, and controlled the field in the lead well until his car broke down.
Among those with a larger share of the vote were Bottas – who arguably deserved much more from the race than he got – and Sebastian Vettel – who once more extracted the maximum from his Ferrari.
Bottas qualified ahead of the Ferrari’s (and well ahead of Massa) and would have had third were it not for Raikkonen’s banzai antics on the last lap.
Even with out the reduced gap at the end of the race, Vettel qualified ahead of his team mate in the best position that the Ferrari could do, and finished two places above where he started. He basically maximised his weekend as much as possible.
In my opinion, there were no stand out performances this weekend but because Perez finished on the podium in a Force India, my vote goes to him. However, Rosberg and Ricciardo were unlucky in the race.
2015 Driver of the Weekend winners
2015 Russian Grand Prix
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- Perez earns first Driver of the Weekend win for three years
- Russia’s second grand prix gets higher rating
- 2015 Russian Grand Prix team radio transcript