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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Magnificent Magnussen pleads his case // Russian GP gets everyone’s mind back on the track

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It was a strange weekend in Russia with all the excitement of a new facility and the start of the championship run in, and yet no one wanted to know, focused on answers after Jules Bianchi’s horrific crash in Japan. But Russia offered everyone the opportunity to move on and get their thoughts somewhat, if not fully, back on racing. But there was definitely something missing, not least the 22nd car on the grid of Jules Bianchi. Perhaps an indication of drivers’ thoughts being on Jules Bianchi, no-one really had the perfect weekend. But regardless, there were still some good performances to write home about.

McLarens star in Mercedes whitewash

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren Mercedes: Started 11th, Finished 5th

McLaren may have been the weaker half of a Mercedes 1-2-3-4-5 but with the car deficit, it was the best that McLaren could have hoped for and certainly the most impressive of the Mercedes-powered results. Both of their drivers had standout performances and took advantage of a track that really suited their car, and well, clearly their power unit.

Magnussen maintained position despite pressure from the entire Red Bull stable behind
Magnussen maintained position despite pressure from the entire Red Bull stable behindCredit: McLaren Mercedes

Jenson Button showed that McLaren had real pace from the word go as he was comparable in practice to Mercedes pace and Kevin Magnussen was beaten only by Lewis Hamilton in second practice, albeit by a mammoth eight tenths. While the pace of the chassis spontaneously disappeared in Saturday practice, it returned when it mattered in qualifying. As the major benefactors of Felipe Massa’s fuel pressure issue, McLaren secured fourth and sixth in qualifying, Button edging out Magnussen by half a second, with the Dane suffering a five-place penalty for a gearbox change after practice.

But the penalty was written off by the end of the first lap as Magnussen leapt up to fifth ahead of the Red Bulls and Toro Rossos, as well as Nico Rosberg with both damaged tyres and pride after an impetuous dive down the inside of Lewis Hamilton into turn one.  Magnussen maintained position despite pressure from the entire Red Bull stable behind and showed his composure under pressure battling both Jean-Éric Vergne and Sebastian Vettel and through the duration of the first stint, he made his power advantage show, creating a comfortable ten second cushion over the quadruple world champion Vettel.

The young Dane is equally deserving of a place at McLaren next year, regardless of who his teammate is

Magnussen jumped Alonso at the stops, pitting two laps later having kept his tyres from degrading during the first stint. He was aided by Alonso’s front jack failing but Magnussen had a clear pace advantage over the Ferrari. While the stop dropped him behind Nico Rosberg, Magnussen’s recovery from eleventh showed that the young Dane is equally deserving of a place at McLaren next year, regardless of who his teammate is. It should be said that both McLaren drivers were exemplary in Russia, showing they are unaffected by major pressure being placed on their careers. Had Magnussen not suffered gearbox and subsequent suspension failure in final practice, resulting in a penalty, it would have been interesting to see where he panned out against Button in the race. I’ll give the edge to Magnussen on Sunday but it was mighty close.

Pérez survives... just

Sergio Pérez, Sahara Force India F1 Team: Started 12th, Finished 10th

Pérez did absolutely everything he could
Credit: Sahara Force India F1 Team

While Force India were way off the pace of their rivals McLaren in Russia, Sergio Pérez did absolutely everything he could to ensure that Force India retained what could be an absolutely critical point if the Silverstone-based squad can regain their pace over the final three races.

Pérez was edged out in qualifying by Hülkenberg by a tenth, but after the German’s penalty was applied, Sergio was left to lead the line. He ran a net tenth for much of the race, keeping tabs with impressive company but unable to make a lasting impression on those ahead.

What earned Pérez the award in Russia was his tenacity and nursing of his Force India over the second half of the race. While much of the pack had to monitor their fuel tanks, it was Pérez who had the sternest warnings from the team that he would run out of fuel before the end of the race. And despite the pleas from the team getting more desperate, he kept plugging away, a second behind Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari and containing the attacks of Felipe Massa and teammate Nico Hülkenberg.

It may not have been a flashy performance from Pérez but he got the best out of his car and took home a well deserved point.

Kvyat left to rue fuel consumption

Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso: Started 5th, Finished 14th

On the face of it, Daniil Kvyat had a terrible Sunday afternoon in his ‘home’ race (in reality, it was just as local for the German drivers as it was for Kvyat by my rough geography). But that should take nothing away from the Russian’s sensational drive on Saturday.

Kvyat showed great raw pace all through the weekend and was a feature at the top of the time sheets, a rarity for Red Bull’s junior squad. Kvyat was consistently considerably quicker than his teammate and when it came down to it, he beat Vettel by eight tenths in Q2 as the quadruple world champion dropped out and then when it got to Q3, he was another eight tenths ahead of his teammate and four ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, lining up the best of the Red Bull drivers in fifth, the only non-Mercedes-powered car within a second of pole.

Toro Rosso’s poor fuel consumption then took effect
Toro Rosso’s poor fuel consumption then took effectCredit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Unfortunately, much like Daniel Ricciardo’s first foray at the front of the grid, it unravelled quickly, as Kvyat dropped to ninth by the end of the first lap, finding himself offline and unable to recover as car after car kept him from making a full recovery. The Toro Rosso’s poor fuel consumption then took effect and saw Kvyat drop like a stone behind his competitors with Mercedes machinery. His struggles were confirmed as a team issue, as Jean-Éric Vergne, who had climbed to fifth at the end of the first lap, finished in 13th, a few seconds ahead of the Russian. But Kvyat still has his Saturday Qualifying session to put on his CV ahead of his move to Red Bull.

Finally a hearty congratulations to Mercedes on securing the Constructors’ crown. It was rather inevitable that the title would be secured in Russia and now allows us to focus on the closer championship battles. And while they didn’t actually need any points in Russia with Red Bull’s struggles, they sealed the championship in style with a 1-2, as Lewis Hamilton won in possibly his most dominant fashion ever and Nico Rosberg recovered well from a first lap pitstop. But, while both drove well, Rosberg must be chastised for such a boneheaded mistake when he had already ‘passed’ Hamilton for the lead. The resultant 14 point swing, and allowing Hamilton to save his engine, could prove the final straw in Nico Rosberg’s fast unravelling championship campaign.