Thanks for nothing: Sochi rated among worst ten races of last ten years

2017 Russian Grand Prix Rate the Race result

Posted on

| Written by

The Russian Grand Prix came to a tense conclusion as Valtteri Bottas held Sebastian Vettel back to score his first grand prix victory.

But until that point the race lacked drama, as had been the case for most of the previous events at this track.

F1 Fanatic readers gave Sunday’s race an average score of less than five out of ten, putting it among the ten worst races since the beginning of 2008. Here’s why.

I’m very happy for Bottas, and I think he drove beautifully, but that was a contender for the worst race I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been watching since the mid-nineties. Might actually have been the worst, because I can’t remember one that bad.

I don’t mind races with little overtaking if there’s some suspense and excitement… but there wasn’t any of that, at all, anywhere in the entire field once the Safety Car pootled back into the pits. The commentators tried their best but even the Bottas-Vettel ‘fight’ near the end was no more than a close-up procession and the only possibility of a position change rested on whether or not Bottas would make a stupid mistake.

And I don’t mind races without much storyline or suspense, as long as there’s a bit of overtaking… but the first lap aside, I didn’t see a single move.

Dismal, boring excuse for a race on a dismal, boring excuse for a circuit. The only saving grace was Alonso dumping his McLaren-Honda where he did before the start, so it was a lap shorter than it would have been.
Neil (@Neilosjames)

No overtaking, field too spread out too quickly. Bottas’ brilliant start and Vettel’s late charge aside, was a very dull race.
Fikri (@elangsawah)

Did Vettel have a serious chance of passing Bottas?
The final laps of the race at least had some tension – though only if you thought there was a chance a pass for the lead might happen:

After Bottas locked up I thought he might make another mistake, plus the traffic could have worked for or against him. I didn’t think Vettel had the outright pace to overtake though.

Due to Bottas’s costly mistake near the end. I was genuinely thinking that the pressure might get to him.

Under normal circumstances though? Absolutely no chance in hell. Heck, I doubted Vettel could’ve gotten anywhere near DRS range had Bottas not made that mistake anyway.
Fikri Harish (@Fihar)

Only if Bottas would make a major mistake. The only realistic overtaking spots were after the two long straights, and even then it would have been nearly impossible, as the Mercedes was mighty on the straights.
Oxnard (@Montalvo)

The Sochi Autodrom has the lowest average Rate the Race score for a track which has held more than one race over the past ten years. The consensus seems to be that this is just not a good circuit for racing on.

The only thing that made the race remotely interesting was that Bottas was going for his 1st win. If it was Vettel chasing Lewis it would have been a zero. The track is terrible. It produced terrible racing in the degradable tyre era, it produces terrible races in the aero era, no matter what changes they make to the formula it will always be a terrible track.

I thought that aside from the first corner, and the last ten laps, that was colossally boring. Literally nothing happened. And no, it was absolutely nothing to do with the current regulations, but rather entirely the fault of the horrendous design of this abomination of a race track.

We’ve seen in the past in both F1 and support series (GP2 and GP3) that this track is just not good for racing. Lots of 90-degree, third and fourth-gear, medium-speed corners is literally the worst possible thing for close racing. Those last ten laps or so were about as exciting as you could possible get from a layout such as this.
Chris (@Tophercheese21)

The track just doesn’t promote good racing, sadly.

But hey, we got a battle for the lead, which bought it up to a four out of ten from me, and that’s generous.

And this is not because it wasn’t an overtaking fest. There just weren’t any good battles to watch. No one was really chasing anyone down. On top of the that, the track is so uninspiring.

This track obviously exacerbates the difficulty following in dirty air, as literally nobody could follow the car ahead closely enough to even attempt an overtake. Vettel was closing bottas by close to a second per lap until he got to two seconds behind, at which point he was struggling to get more than a couple of tenths per lap. Once he was 1 second behind, it was clear that he wasn’t going to be able to get close enough to attempt a pass.

The huge dirty air effect at this circuit was apparent from the fact that Vettel was doing practically identical lap times to Bottas once he was within 1.5 seconds, despite the fact that Raikkonen, on older tyres, was lapping close to a second a lap faster than them both. Vettel would have been more than a second a lap faster than Bottas in the end if he had clear air. It’s crazy to think that with such a pace advantage, he couldn’t even get close enough to attempt a pass, let alone get past.

The circuit just doesn’t promote good racing and the director seemed to be more bothered about making sure Putin gets his airtime. The sooner Russia disappears from the calendar, the better.
James Brickles (@Brickles)

Rate the Race: The Twitter verdict

With a few exceptions, there wasn’t much positive said about the race on Twitter either:

2017 Rate the Race Results

RaceAverage score
2017 Australian Grand Prix6.4
2017 Chinese Grand Prix7.5
2017 Bahrain Grand Prix7.9
2017 Russian Grand Prix4.9

Rate the Race

View more Rate the Race results:

Rate the Race appears immediately after every grand prix finishes. To join in simply register a free F1 Fanatic account. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here.

2017 Russian Grand Prix

Browse all 2017 Russian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

109 comments on “Thanks for nothing: Sochi rated among worst ten races of last ten years”

  1. Christ, what an ungrateful bunch. I’m just glad there was a race at all. I’d prefer to have Imola but hey, if Russia want to host a boring race then I don’t mind.

    1. Damn us for having an opinion! We should just say everything is amazing or shut up! What fools we were! Thank you jhg103 for showing us the error of our ways!

    2. I mind. Track is rubbish. Tilke.

    3. Not really. I’m paying good money to watch F1 which I’m sure most of us are and if they keep serving that up again i don’t know what i would do. You wonder why people turn off

  2. It was one of the best non-overtaking races I’ve ever seen.

    1. @rvg013, I agree. It surprised me when Martin Brundle announced towards the end of the race that there had not really been any overtaking, and I thought to myself, “Who needs overtaking – that was enthralling!”. I never thought I would ever say that but it’s true!

      1. +1 @shimks,
        i said myself at the start of thisseason that i was hoping for some good action in the midfeild. We didnt get that in Russia. we got some proper almost wheel to wheel racing at the front – AT THE FRONT – of the pack, and with a NEW DRIVER, whats more wxciting than that. seriously ppl we look to the mid feild when we can predict the finish by whos out front, not when the front line is puttingon all the entertainment we require. (right??)

        1. Wheel to wheel at the front of the pack??? 0.8 seconds at 200mph is about a 250 foot gap — with a concertina effect into slower corners. Were you watching the same race? or smoking something that I can’t get my hands on?

      2. I have seen Verstappen overtaking two cars at the start!!

    2. As it is in Russia even if there had been an overtake for the lead every lap it would only get a 6 for many. As it’s Russia I think it starts on a -3 before a wheel has turned. I like it being in Russia and when you glimpse the scenery it looks like a really great place. The leaders battled to the last with less than a second between them. Good race for me.

      1. Not true. The political background was even worse when we got Bahrain race, to the point when one event was canceled altogether. Nevertheless, the racing itself is much better there. That is why we have an occasional political news come Bahrain race, but the action itself is rated separately.

        Just accept it, Russia is yet to host an exciting race, and that last one was one of the worst examples in a decade. Majorly it’s due to on-track action, and politics simply make the situation even worse.

    3. The race was certainly not a visual spectacle with carnage and smoke and flames throughout. That’s what NASCAR is for, not F1. To me this race was something of a torch pass. The four time champion, driving a Ferrari no less, chasing down a top team place filler looking for his first victory. Almost no one has mentioned how Bottas stayed behind traffic in the DRS detection zone to so he could use his DRS on his last push for the finish. It shows he is indeed a cool customer and worthy of a top seat in the series. Well done VB!!!

  3. I agree with most comments above particularly neilojames and kazinho, the layout doesnt help as it was tge case with valencia that said in the end its as always aero the real issue here, and tge reason why this years russian gp was the least eventful. Honestly the rating for this years race was flattering, i had people not focused on the russian aspect 2014 would have been that awful, only poor.

    1. @peartree it brought back strong memories of Valencia 2011 for me. Which has the second worst rating on this website. Sochi this year was clearly saved from these depths by the bit of excitement at the end, but not enough to get it out of the bottom 10. Both races were a battle to keep my eyelids open. I prevailed, although my best mate lost consciousness for 15 laps. And he missed nothing!

  4. Harsh ratings, thought it was good myself, at least a six. Too many people are obsessed with overtaking, they can’t see the wood for the trees.

    I have enjoyed these first four races considerably more than most of the races the past 5 or 6 years, F1 is beginning to feel more like what I remember it used to be like and what I believe it is supposed to be, and really it is all down to the new tyres. They are actually racing now after so many years of mainly pussyfooting driving and multiple tyre pit stop strategies, it’s a big improvement from recent times but there is still more to do.

    1. Completely agree with this – it feels far more genuine this year; the drivers are finally having to try again and to me, that’s far more important than overtaking.

      I don’t understand the obsession with it – of course, it’s a key part of Grand Prix racing, but it’s only part of a much bigger picture.

    2. I agree that many are obsessed with overtaking, but as I said in my quote in the article, I didn’t dislike it because of the lack of overtaking. I disliked 90% of it because literally nothing happened. There were no battles to keep an eye on (other than for around 10th place, which we’ve had in abundance over the past 5-6 years). No dramas. Nothing.

      Then we had the final 5-10 laps which were really interesting!

      Trust me, i’d rather this than a total DRS overtakefest where nothing means anything!

      That’s not to say this wasn’t a boring race, though, because I really felt most of it was. It wasn’t fake racing, though, either..

      1. Does something have to happen? Sometimes everyone is spaced out and there was no race to be had. Honestly, boring races have been a part of F1 since i started watching 23 years ago and Sunday’s race was nothing different. We move on to the next one.

    3. Most people (certainly I, and many of the quotes above) did not rate it poorly because the lack of overtaking, but due to the lack of fighting.
      One can argue that only BOT and VET fought for a position, and STR and SAI tried it (but we did not see that). All the others just saw the distances to the cars in front and in the mirror widen. I did not see them racing (trying) that hard (except for VET/BOT).

      In the quotes mentioned above by @keithcollantine only a single mention of the amount of overtakes as one of the reasons for a low rating (the other was the field being spread out too quickly).

      A race with fewer overtakes can be mighty interesting (China this year), but Sochi 2017 certainly was not one of those.

    4. The Playstation generation want carnage and think there’s a reset button.

  5. I missed this one because of the DotA 2 Kiev major. Kind of had it running in the background but paid it no mind as it never seemed worth focusing on sadly. I agree with the thanks for nothing sentiment :P

  6. Clearly some races are better than others, but personally I find excitement in every race… as a one-off event I’ve seen more exciting Grand Prix but think about what this race means in context with the season as a whole. Bottas has thrown his name into the hat for a title which was previously thought to be a two-horse race.

    Meanwhile, Vettel hunting down Bottas to try to deny him his first ever win, who in turn had comprehensively outraced Lewis Hamilton is one beaut of a story in my opinion. It was tense and brewing throughout the whole race.

    1. I agree. Gave it a 6 for the reasons you have stated. VB’s start, the question as to when LH would pour it on because I assumed he would at some point, when would SV pour it on because I assumed he would at some point, would VB be able to hang on in the end. Sure ok, virtually no overtaking, but, I think people tend toward using hindsight a little too much.

    2. Votes explain how Trump got elected. Shallow F1 fans do exist. I’ve enjoyed every race including the behind the scenes work by teams and their efforts to improve during practice and subsequent race strategy.

    3. +1.
      I enjoyed the whole race.

  7. Absolutely terrible track. F1 needs to ditch it ASAP.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      4th May 2017, 19:03

      I don’t understand it when people say this. But then I suppose I quite like the track. But do people really mean they would rather not see it even if there wasn’t a replacement track? Surely everybody will have rather seen what happened instead of the entire Russian grand prix weekend getting cancelled and not getting replaced with another track.

      Anyway, if people dislike it so much that they would rather not see it, just don’t bother watching it and then you don’t have to complain. I actually enjoyed that race even though there was a lack of overtaking.

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        5th May 2017, 2:42

        We watch it because it’s Formula One. Even if there are some things we dislike about it, it’s out passion and so we watch it at every opportunity. I absolutely despise this track, but I still watched the race because I love F1.

  8. What sort of fan wants to watch a race where overtaking is nearly impossible!?! If they insist on keeping horrid tracks like this on the calendar, they should let Pirelli use the tyres that fell apart after 10 laps. More pit stops always adds a bit more excitement and potential chaos. Or make it a wet race via some sort of sprinkler system. Or better yet, do it in the height of an icy Russian winter!!

    F1 are always trying to attract new fans. What did that race (and any race where during the build up the classic line ‘It’s incredibly difficult to overtake here’ is used) offer someone watching the sport for the first time want to come back for?

    1. People also don’t want horribly fake racing, and what you’re suggesting is promoting that, sadly. We tried that, and it was a nice novelty, but no thank you. Ross Brawn clearly wants to (thankfully) move away from this way of thinking, too.

      I’d be more than happy to drop this track, but by the same token, every dog (track) has its day. I remember the final Valencia race being brilliant after providing us with one of the worst races in history (Valencia 2009). Sometimes we just have to accept a bad race being just that. I didn’t see it, but I heard Man City Vs. Man Utd was terrible the other day. It was just a bad game, and that’s that.

    2. @W They don’t have a crystal ball to know ahead of time how a race will turn out. And I’m hoping and expecting there may be further tweeks to the cars (particularly aero) and tires next year that for all we know will see Sochi as the highest rated race of next season. One never knows.

      1. I don’t think there’s much chance of making that happen (re. Sochi). It just isn’t the type of track to promote good racing, sadly.

        If there were barriers close to the track, potentially it could be fun, as you’d have a few retirements, and it’d test the driver more. But you won’t be getting that any time soon.

        The 90 degree corners aren’t good for overtaking, whether you sort the aero issue, or not. They’re not a fun fast/medium speed corner, and they’re not a heavy braking zone. They’re basically a bit of a no man’s land, filler corner, and there’s tons of them on this track.

        I work in track design, and i’m rapidly learning about what constitutes a good modern day racing circuit, and the types of corner (and sequences) they require.

        1. @ecwdanselby You work in track design. Very cool. I strongly urge you to check out which is the website for the track Jacques Villenueve has built in British Columbia, Canada. He has put much thought and of course his vast experience into this track, and the site talks about that. JV wanted a track that a driver can both be proud to get a flying clean-air quali lap on, as well as be a challenge for a race distance. His underlying opinion seems to be that some tracks are more or less thrilling to put in a flier, whereas they are the opposite for a race distance, but rarely do tracks offer the driver both experiences of enjoyment on Saturday vs. Sunday. I think the suggestion is that it can be enthralling to qualify well on a challenging track but if said challenging track offers very little passing then the more fun day was on the Saturday. A wider open track that offers more passing opportunities is less ‘edgey’ to qualify on but offers more fun and passing potential on the Sunday. He’s tried to do both with his track. Very very interesting.

          1. Michael Brown (@)
            4th May 2017, 20:12

            @robbie I see similarities to Mugello, but with more straights instead of constant corners.

  9. Would it be a sensible solution to the overtaking problem if the race was run on the same configuration but backwards? We’d get a very tight turn one and the current turn 3 would maybe help drivers set up for an overtake or something. Doesn’t sound like a sensible solution but personally I’d love to see it happen.

    1. First issue would be run-off, and that isn’t an easy one to change due to the site constraints. Will give it a go in the game, though!

  10. I quite enjoyed the race to be honest, although if there had been (non DRS assisted) overtakes, it would have been better.

    As mentioned by loads previously, since there is qualifying, the fastest cars are likely to be at the front at the start of the race, which means the amount of overtaking will always be limited.

    People have suggested solutions such as reversing grid order from qualifying (or previous race), but that just opens up the whole thing to abuse… imagine Monaco (or Sochi of course), purposely manipulating to start at front of grid.

    Hear me out on this one… if you awarded points for qualifying for each position, and then reverse the grid, do you think there is a possibility of finding the right points balance between qualifying and race day to make it work – so that drivers get rewarded properly for the weekend’s effort, and allow for a more exciting race (with no DRS)?

    One obvious flaw is best driver(s) may not get podium which is disappointing, but any thoughts on above (or somehow to get a variation of above?)

    1. DRS, reverse grids… Same difference. You’re still giving the person ‘behind’ an unfair advantage, which we just don’t want or need in the pinnacle of motorsport. Nor does Ross Brawn.

      1. but the point i am making is, it doesn’t necessary need to be an advantage… if there is enough stimulus to challenge in qualifying – ie. the points I am suggesting, it could work? (I am doubting myself as I type, btw)

        1. no there isn’t a reasonable way to achieve reverse grids

  11. This was a race of extremes: the first 3 and last 3 laps were good. The rest was spectacularly monotonous. This is the sort of race I would have expected from the duller parts of the 2015-2016 era, not from 2017 (which has been considerably more exciting).

    This is the most boring race Sochi has hosted since its debut, so I still want to believe this is atypical of the circuit. (I asked and hoped that Sochi 2014 would be a nice, clean, dull, boring race and it delivered in spades, so I’m not going to complain about that one…)

    1. @alianora-la-canta ”This is the most boring race Sochi has hosted since its debut”
      – I disagree. IMO the inaugural race is the most boring of the four races held on this circuit so far:
      1. 2015
      2. 2017
      3. 2016
      4. 2014

      1. “Since its debut” means “excluding its first year”, which would be 2014. I found 2016, as well as 2015, considerably more interesting than this year’s event – although I would concede that for the front few cars, 2016 had little excitement to offer.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      4th May 2017, 20:33

      In all fairness, that’s what to expect from the new regs. Tracks where overtaking is already difficult won’t be helped that much by DRS. This, Catalunya, Monaco, Baku… They’ll all be processions.

      The trade off is that where overtake is possible, it will happen rather than people waiting for the DRS zone to easily pass.

      There is no simple solution that works for all tracks unless they are all relatively similar. If that happens, people will complain that all the tracks are the same! :D

  12. So how exactly do you guys expect to cope once your preciously-hated DRS really goes down the drain? The first time this year there was genuine competition for the win going on and everyone hates on a interesting race because ‘no overtakes’.

    The only thing i really disliked about the whole race is that pirelli have the audacity to call a brick that easily lasts half a race an ‘Ultrasoft’.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      4th May 2017, 13:27

      Nobody hated the fight for the win.

      1. Spot on.

    2. @mrboerns movies taught us that Russians are always the bad guys.

      had to that the amazing Sochi circuit and “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”

    3. @mrboerns The removal of DRS will, imho, coincide with a well considered approach of evolving the cars to have an appropriate ratio of mechanical grip to aero, as in, aero needs to be tweeked so that mechanical grip overwhelms it such that cars aren’t as negatively affected in dirty air. Brawn has said he’s never been a fan of DRS but that he also can’t just take it away while the cars have been designed around it’s presence. I predict in 2 or 3 years DRS will be gone and F1 will be far better off for that.

    4. Pre-DRS wasn’t the problem – the first few laps were interesting – it was what happened after the DRS was switched on that was the problem (though in this case I don’t think many people got close enough for DRS to help or hinder the outcome).

  13. Michael Brown (@)
    4th May 2017, 13:26

    Baku might end up being better.

    1. I doubt it. Follows a very, very similar formula to Sochi. Slightly closer barriers in places, and a gigantic straight. They’re the two key differences.

  14. Much improved layout for the Tweets, Keith, thanks for the update.

  15. I think some interesting scenarios arose during the races, they just ultimately led to nothing. Vettel didn’t close in Bottas until it was too late, Hamilton only fell further away from Raikkonen as they race went on, and we were deprived of seeing how far up the field Alonso could take his McLaren.

    The happy ending with Bottas winning was great, I sincerely hope he can use this to catalyse his championship bid, to hell with being Hamilton’s rear gunner.

  16. Sochi is one of those tracks where all the cars get themselves into race pace order by the time the first pit stop is out of the way and then run in order for the rest of the race.

    Looking at the Vettel / Bottas battle, the former would make up time in sector 2, only to lose some of that again in the stop-start Sector 3 and not be close enough for an overtake at turn 2. There was a similar pattern early in the race when Hamilton was following Raikkonen, and it made me wonder whether Sochi would be better if run in reverse with a couple tweaks here and there.

    I’m not a track designer/engineer, but would expect some benefits:

    1. If changes were made to the current Turn 2 so that it wasn’t such an acute angle and demanded less traction onto the straight, cars following through the reversed final sector might lose less time following than they do in the current final sector, leading to cars being closer together once on the straight and in a better position to overtake. It would be somewhat similar to the end of Korea but with a longer straight.

    2. Getting the braking right for the pit lane would suddenly be a much bigger challenge for the drivers, and would produce a more interesting pit exit in my opinion.

    3. The new Sector 1 would likely be just as boring in reverse however it may produced some extended lap 1 battles when brakes/tyres are all a little outside of their working ranges.

    4. Following on from all of the above, each given lap would start with a slow technical section and get faster and faster as it goes on, finishing with the long straight and an overtaking opportunity. Although I’d take a good overtaking spot at any point of the lap, seeing it being put together as the lap builds feels a bit more exciting.

    Has there been any precedent for circuits being run in reverse (apart from on Gran Turismo)?

    1. @sparkyamg When Misano got MotoGP back in 2007, the circuit was changed from anti-clockwise to clockwise with few changes. See the link below for different versions.

      Indianapolis road course is another example, MotoGP used to ride it anti-clockwise while F1 and Champ Cars have raced clockwise.

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      4th May 2017, 14:49

      Sounds like the Baku layout, slowest parts at the start and fastest parts at the end.

      The reason why the current turn 2 is like the way it is is because the Olympic organizers required there to be space between the apex of turn 2 and the building on the other side. I can’t explain why that stupid left-hand kink is there, however. By the way, the original turn 4 was meant to be a much faster corner, like the last two turns of Korea. I love this corner combination but I suspect it was made slower for safety reasons, and I don’t think it would work even in reverse because it looks like there is less runoff there.

      I still think running the track in the reverse direction is better, though.

      1. I think they’ve tried to make it similar to Bahrain T1-2, which actually works really well.

        Difference why it works so well in Bahrain compared to here is the sequence following it. Let me explain:

        Bahrain works because you have a fairly long straight after, followed by a tight turn (which happens to be quite wide, and therefore encouraging different lines, too, which is great for overtaking). This encourages mistakes on the exit of T2 (traction limited), and gives the car behind enough time to capitalise on this advantage and take a dive down the inside of T3.

        Sochi on the other hand has a very long, fast corner, followed by a medium/tight corner which only has one line through it. When someone did try to overtake there (I believe Kimi/Bottas had their incident there), you have an issue, as we saw.

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          4th May 2017, 20:06

          Also, Bahrain’s turn 1 is a slow corner and your line though there affects how you navigate turn 2. In Sochi, the kink following turn 2 is placed right on the exit of turn 2, so it is more of a quirk of turn 2 than its own corner.

          Also, Bahrain turns 1 and 2 are slower, and so traction matters a lot. Sector one of Bahrain is very well designed for racing. Moves initiated at turn 1 can last all the way until turns 4 or 5. The advantage gained on how good your line is in turn 1 lasts an entire sector, and I think that’s great track design.

  17. I think we’d be hard-pressed to find someone who likes the track, but I really didn’t mind that at all as a race (mind you I didn’t think much of Bahrain and everyone seemed to enjoy it, so what do I know). For me what’s becoming clearer is that the biggest thing that made the previous generation of cars boring to watch was that they weren’t pushing – mind you that’s very much down to the tires in a big way. this year I find I can see the guys actually fighting, fighting the tarmac, fighting the cars, fighting for tenths and hundredths – lots more improvements to be made, but for me that’s not boring at all, or certainly more interesting than watching fuel and tire saving runs glorified by DRS ‘overtakes’.

  18. I fell asleep. Woke up after the podium ceremony.

  19. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
    4th May 2017, 14:13

    I criticise races when they have a bad rating and I’m gonna call myself “F1’s José Mourinho”.

    1. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
      5th May 2017, 5:08

      (also I’m threatening again for the third time to quit F1)

  20. to be honest i fell asleep at one point, but thought it picked up towards the end. the track is not thrilling which makes it significantly worse (we’ve had some pretty dull GPs at spa recently, but it’s still fun to watch the cars on circuit; ditto, monaco).

    there are always going to be races where the pack falls into speed order too early on. it’s inevitable really if qualifying goes to plan and the start is uneventful – what else can logically happen? the fastest cars will already be at the front. reliability and strategy are far too ‘sorted’ for there to be much in the way of mid-race variation these days.
    i think we might have a few more of these sorts of races – hopefully the title battles will still be tight as that always introduces an element of excitement and tension.

  21. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    4th May 2017, 14:30

    A pretty bad race,perhaps the 2nd worst for me(in recent years) after Australia 2015.The “battle” for the lead came extremely late,there was no fight for the remaining podium spot,cars couldnt follow each other,there was no strategy involved,as the track never provides any kind of degradation,even at midfiled there was no action…Its a pity that Sochi has contract till 2025,just replace this track with Imola!

    1. So you didn’t watch Baku 2016 I gather.

      I did, much to my regret.

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        4th May 2017, 15:45

        I did,but it was its first race,so i ll give it an second chance this year,who knows what might happen :/

  22. This is gonna happen from time to time – it was exaggerated by the cars being mostly in order of pace, i.e. p1 faster than p2, p2 faster than p3 etc. And the fact that we don’t have melting tyres any more, made it look even worse, because people who pitted didn’t really gain any advantage.

    It was still better than anything I’ve seen in the previous 3 years if you take the above into consideration, so I’ll take it.

    And one thing that is also better this year – you don’t see tons of marbles next to the track.

  23. I’m sure RT and Sputnik News would say this was the greatest race ever.

  24. Fukobayashi (@)
    4th May 2017, 15:45

    Baku 2016 is probably the worst race I can remember since I started watching F1 in 96.

    For me there was zero suspense at the end of this race, having not seen one overtake in the entire race I wasn’t suddenly on the edge of my seat thinking that Vettel was going to pull one off on the last lap!

  25. I found the race quite boring, except for the start and the last 2 laps, yet that didn’t annoy me too much, since bad races do tend to happen now and then. The real annoyance came the moment Eddie “full of crap” Jordan stepped on the podium with his blatant lies about the very, very, very exciting race we just watched. I really hope he gets booted by liberty media as soon as possible.

    1. Lol I do hear you but realistically EJ wasn’t going to go up there and slam the race, right? And I think he looks at the big picture of F1, no? VB’s start was thrilling. We got a third winner in 4 races so far this season. We got a first time winner in F1, and he’s up against no less than LH. LH wasn’t on the podium for a change. The Ferraris are in it this year whereas it’s been all Merc for too long. The actual race aside, the results have set up a great continuation to the season from the standpoint of someone like EJ with all his experience in F1 and obvious enthusiasm for it that remains with him to this day.

      1. I vote you for taking over Eddie Jordan’s job.

  26. FernandoAlvarez
    4th May 2017, 16:24

    Man, those Russia hating Trolls are becoming a pain in the a…
    Stay away with that politic crap. It is sport!
    As if Grandprix Spain, Austria or Canada is more thrilling.
    If you need guts and blood to stay awake, watch Boxing or Wrestling.

    1. +1.
      You can’t satisfy everyone, unfortunately. They tend to forget times of RBR and vettel winning everything that made it very boring. They start writing good stuff when putin bows to europe, i guarantee it.

  27. The only thing good to come out of this Russian GP (apart from VB77’s win) was the moment that they captioned the guy wearing a Darth Vader mask as “Darth Vader – Sith Lord”!

    1. ..which was actually at the Chinese GP.

      1. Really? Ups…. ‘:D Still, pretty great!

    2. That’s actually very funny, I must have missed that due to rtl commercial break.

  28. I don’t think that there are boring Grand Prix. The problem is that most people (even committed fans at times) do not fully appreciate the different ways in which a race can be special. People want to see many overtaking maneuvres, wheel to wheel battles, spectacular crashes maybe and cannot feel and therefore understand how much of a spectacle it is only watching those drivers bringing their highly complicated cars to the limit lap after lap. Most people cannot even understand how amazing a battle like the one we’ve had in Sochi between Bottas and Vettel can be. Two drivers on the absolute limit pushing flat out at every corner gaining and loosing tenths, locking wheels and then trying to recover, struggling to maximize every little aspect of their performance and machinery on the road to vitory. That is not to say that overtaking and wheel to wheel battles are not the essence of racing. They are but alongside with understanding what a driver actually does only to keep those things on the road, let alone drive them to the limit. But it’s their rarity that underlines their importance. You can watch a lot more “obvious” battles in junior categories. But it’s not the same. The cars are much closer in performance and the drivers a lot more inexperienced hence it’s easier to see more of such battles. I would say appreciate the importance and difficulty of what the drivers do and then races like China (amazing overtaking at turn 6 by both Max and Seb) or Sochi (amazing battle for the lead even though there was no wheel to wheel action) will be put into context.

    1. I totally agree

    2. I think there is a lot of merit in what you’ve said.

    3. Constantine, you’re not serious, are you?

      In my book a battle has to include an actual challenge for race position. Apart from the first 2 km that didn’t happen in Sochi at any time.

      You say you watched two drivers on the absolute limit. Why, because Bottas locked his wheels… once? The fact that Raikkonen’s fastest lap was half a second quicker than Vettel’s (the German on much fresher tyres) seems to suggest that Vettel was quite far away from the absolute limit.

      Beside me here on my desk sits a 2 Tb hard drive that stores pretty much every Grand Prix since 1977. It will take a lot of time and effort to find a more boring, lifeless, sorry excuse of a race on there than the 2017 Russian GP.

      1. Dear Leo I am pretty serious as I believe you are as well. We just have a different perspective on things. In my view things in racing (as in life in general as well) are not black or white therefore I believe that wheel to wheel action is the culmination of a battle not the definition of it. There are many such examples. Remember Imola 2005 and 2006? And I could come up with many more such examples. And yes both of them were on the limit. Just because Kimi was fastest during the 2nd stint it doesn’t mean that Valtteri and Seb were not on the limit. As expected Mercedes was struggling on the super soft and Seb was finding it extremely hard to get into the DRS zone partly beacuse of the nature of the track. Yet the did give everything they got for the victory. It’s a shame you found that boring. It’s a shame missing out on the good thing in F1 just because they sometimes are not too obvious.

  29. I gave it a 5/10, not because the lack of overtaking but because the lack of battles. This GP was more or less over after the 1st round. There was no real strategic battle and cars didn’t really get into overtaking range.

    The fact I’m Dutch doesn’t help. Max drove a really boring race. Unfortunately others couldn’t get the action going.

  30. Rick Lopez (@viscountviktor)
    4th May 2017, 17:34

    4.9 is too generous. No idea how people on here can say they enjoyed that bore fest.

  31. Neil (@neilosjames)
    4th May 2017, 18:02

    Usually when I’m that negative about something (as I was in my comment), I mellow a little after a few days. But I still 100% agree with myself, so it must have been just as horrible as I thought.

  32. It seems to me most of this year’s races are going to get low ratings because I can’t see the “race lacked drama” problem changing. To get more drama means bringing in more DRS or changing the aerodynamic rules back to what they had last season, both of which will make will lack popularity, so we are stuck with having lack of drama races.

  33. One of Tilke’s most boring track layouts results in boring “races” – well, there’s a surprise!

  34. Mexican GP is going to even worse this year looking how badly people have responded to Russian GP.

  35. I think we all need to accept what I already have : that is that F1 races are not really ” races ” among drivers but, rather exhibitions of the constructors’ resources and talent ( mostly resources ).
    At least Sochi was not an event like those we have witnessed the last 3 years ,that is: a Silver Arrow ( usually Hamilton’s ) sets the pace in qualifying and then from the pole takes the lead and stretches out the distance until he is essentially out of sight of the pack and then everyone follows each other for a couple of hours. It has been ( for 3 years ) a display of what Mercedes’ and Petronas’ money could get by paying for a 1,000 person team .Impressive as far as technology was concerned but, not a true competition .
    At least at Sochi the last few laps were interesting ( in contrast to the first 90% of the race ) .
    Add to this the fact that there almost was an exciting finish because had not Massa decided to help his old team-mate by getting in Vettel’s way there was a chance that Vettel could ( with DRS assistance ) catch and possibly pass Bottas.
    So, in the big picture ,that is when compared to all forms of auto racing Sochi was boring but, when compared to the last 3 plus years of F1 events ( I say “events ” because it is procrustean to call what F1 presents a “race” ) Sochi was very good .
    So let’s take little steps and do something to make sure that when the driver in P2 has the chance to actually challenge for P1 another driver cannot interfere with that challenge and then offer the defense of saying that no one should listen to the challenging driver’s complaints because he is nothing more than a complainer. .
    After F1 fixes that issue it can move on to things like having a formula which really does facilitate over-taking and then ( some day in the far future ) it can work on parity so that “On any given Sunday” anyone CAN win. ( I know… but, I can dream can’t I ? )

  36. What I find interesting is that this race had some similarities with the race in Bahrain 2nd place gunning for first and their teammates not performing as well yet Bahrain got the second highest in a decade while Russia is on the other end of the scale. Interesting.

    1. Noone likes the same trick twice ;)

      1. Absorbing, fascinating race. What Formula 1 is all about. Great performances and well executed strategy from Bottas and Vettel fighting for the win, which wasn’t decided until the last lap. And there must have been some overtaking; Bottas started P3, yet led first lap :-).

  37. MrF1GuyV12POWAHHH (@)
    4th May 2017, 22:26

    It still was better than the 2014 race. Nothing tops that when it comes to boredom.

  38. A cant see the big deal about the rating I gave it a 5 as it was little more than a procession after the first lap. Sure Vettal nearly caught Bottas but he didn’t so there was no great battle for the win. Red bull was miles off the pace, Hamilton was just not there. It was an OK race that’s it.

  39. Seriously? 0 overtaking, no battles until the very end. Very uninspiring track, boring to tears and yet it got almost a score of 5?

  40. This headline does nothing for the image of F1 and is lazy journalism. I get mad everytime I see it. I just can’t figure out why one of the best balanced sites (in the past) is sliding down such negative paths at times. Is it clickbait to generate traffic revenue or what.

    1. Me too. It’s clear that Keith is no fan of the current gen F1, which is sad because for many, it’s a major improvement from the last 3 years, and moving in the right direction. Every week there’s an article on here which slates the current system, and assists in deluding people into believing worn tyres that are 3 seconds slower than fresh ones, which combined with DRS fakeness skews overtaking numbers, is a better way than witnessing no overtakes.

      Also, all the cars were in performance order – p1 faster than p2, p2 faster than p3 etc. – which almost never happens, at least not in every position – and nobody had to start from the back due to reliability issues in quali, unlike last year, which skewed overtaking stats even more. You would have had to bet your house last year on the fact that Hamilton would pass the Saubers, Toro Rossos and so forth on track with not much issue – same would have happened this year if an anomaly like this happened again.

      1. @ho3n3r
        I think you’re absolutely spot on with your performance order comment, and I am surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Qualifying is predominantly about car performance, and unless there is a big difference in a team’s qualifying to race pace, then processions should be the norm.
        Complaints about no overtakes (as much as I enjoy real racing action) is a bit of a red herring in my book.

    2. to be fair to Keith, I don’t think he was slating it himself, but was gathering viewpoints, which were pretty negative as a whole.
      I enjoy this site very much and did/still do believe it takes a very balanced viewpoint.

  41. F1 needs more Verstappen action.

  42. SevenFiftySeven
    5th May 2017, 9:24

    With Bernie gone, maybe we could bring back the Indian grand prix at Buddh International Circuit. I find the track quite interesting from a driving point of view. It doesn’t look like a concrete park like Abu Dhabi and Sochi. If I understand correctly, the Govt. of India sought higher taxes from the organizers of the Indian Grand Prix by categorizing the event as an entertainment activity, instead of a sporting activity. Maybe Chase Carey can negotiate a good deal for both parties.

    The man and machine against the wilderness and the elements feel is completely lost when roads are flanked on both sides by concrete, instead of grass. Imagine replacing the grass on both Lezmos with concrete – no sense of scale of the track, no contrast, no visual interest. There should be grass; let there be grass;thou should go with grass. If one were to remove all the concrete away from both Abu Dhabi and Sochi (including the buildings), the tracks would look and feel much better. The choke points at Sochi could well be removed, but given the layout (which is that of a stadium complex), Sochi could work well as a testing venue if they resurface the track with variable levels of grip and abrasiveness. Having said that, gaps between teams is inherent to F1 by default. Some tracks reveal the imbalance more than others. Maybe a Grand Prix in Siberia, perhaps, when it is drizzling snow.

  43. Maybe repaving could improve the track. And slight reconfiguration should also be possible give it is a car park solely used for the race during the particular weekend.

  44. Was it a bad race? Yes. Was it in the ten worst since 2008? No way. Every season has races where the order is decided after the first corner, not even with this exciting charge towards the end. To say this is ten worst since 2008 is ludicrous. Shows how we’ve had a great season so far but people are getting too used to it.

  45. Alex McFarlane
    6th May 2017, 7:41

    Not only is Sochi an abysmal layout but also the flattest circuit on the calendar with just 1.9m of elevation change.

    There is nothing in the topography of the circuit to differentiate the performances between chassis, nothing to break the aero wake for drivers trying to follow closely, and nothing that allows for different racing lines over the course of the circuit.

    I can’t even imagine a motorcycle race being interesting here, Russia really needs a better circuit if they want to remain on the calendar. Heck, I’d even take an oval super speedway if it promoted more interest than it does now.

Comments are closed.