Memorable F1 moments at the Russian Grand Prix

From Kvyat’s first lap disaster to Bottas’ first win, here are some memorable F1 moments which happened at the Russian Grand Prix!

2015: Sainz crashes heavily in Free Practice

On the Saturday morning of the 2015 Russian Grand Prix weekend, Carlos Sainz suffered a huge accident in Free Practice 3. In his maiden season, driving for Toro Rosso, the Spaniard lost control of the car on his way into Turn 13 and ended up stuck in the barriers after a heavy 46G impact.

Sainz was stretchered away from the scene of the crash and taken to hospital. He was uninjured, suffering only a sore neck and back. Despite his crash, Sainz was able to start the Grand Prix the following day. He retired just eight laps from the end of the race with a brake failure.

2015: Bottas and Raikkonen collide

In the closing stages of the 2015 Russian Grand Prix, Formula 1’s two Finnish drivers came together when battling for position. Sergio Perez pitted early in the race and was an easy target for both Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen to overtake on the penultimate lap. But the two Finns then became embroiled in their own battle for the final podium position.

On the final lap, Raikkonen made an optimistic move on the Williams driver, eliminating his fellow countryman from the race. The drama allowed Perez back through into an unlikely podium finish. Raikkonen limped home to fifth place, but a 30-second penalty for causing a collision saw him drop to eighth in the final order.

2016: Kvyat’s first lap disaster

The 2016 Russian Grand Prix was memorable for all the wrong reasons for home hero Daniil Kvyat. On the opening lap, he eliminated Sebastian Vettel from the race after crashing into the Ferrari driver not once, but twice. 

At the first turn, the Red Bull driver rammed into the back of the Ferrari, who in turn collided with Kvyat’s Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Then, through the next turn, Kvyat again hit the back of the Ferrari, this time with Vettel spearing into the barriers and out of the race. The collision compromised the two Red Bull drivers’ races, with neither managing to score any points. Kvyat was demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso following this race.

2016: 7 in a row for Rosberg

Nico Rosberg was on a winning streak as he arrived in Sochi for the 2016 Russian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver had won every race since the previous year’s Mexican Grand Prix. Looking to extend his streak of victories to seven, Rosberg’s chances of taking another win were aided by his team-mate Lewis Hamilton being unable to set a lap time in the final stage of qualifying due to a hybrid system failure. 

Rosberg went on to win the Russian Grand Prix from pole position, taking a seventh victory in a row – a feat which only Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel had achieved before him. Rosberg’s win streak came to an end at the very next race, the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, following a first lap collision with his team-mate.

2017: Bottas’ first win

Valtteri Bottas recorded his first Grand Prix victory in Russia in 2017. Having replaced Nico Rosberg at Mercedes following the German’s retirement at the end of the 2016 season, Bottas showed good pace in his first few races with his new team.

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the 2017 Russian Grand Prix, with Bottas starting alongside him on the front row. Bottas swooped past the Ferrari at the start and from there led the majority of the race. Vettel pitted later than Bottas, and the Ferrari driver’s fresher tyres allowed him to close to within 0.7 seconds of the Finn by the end of the race. But Bottas held Vettel off and claimed his maiden Formula 1 victory, becoming Finland’s fifth Grand Prix winner.

2018: Bottas moves aside

Bottas has less fond memories of the 2018 Russian Grand Prix. One year on from his maiden win at the circuit, Bottas claimed pole position at Sochi Autodrom. He led from the start until his pit stop on Lap 11. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton took the lead until he pitted a few laps later. 

On Lap 26, Bottas was running ahead of Hamilton and would likely have had the pace to go on and take victory. However, the Mercedes team informed Bottas that Hamilton was suffering with blistering and needed to pass him as Sebastian Vettel behind was becoming a threat. Bottas moved aside for his team-mate, who went on to win the race. Bottas later revealed in Netflix’s Drive to Survive series that he considered quitting after the controversial team orders call in this race.

2018: Verstappen’s epic comeback

Red Bull didn’t have much success at Sochi in the Russian Grand Prix’s first years on the Formula 1 calendar. In 2018, Max Verstappen served a 43-place grid penalty at the event. He picked up a 35 place drop for exceeding his quota of power unit elements, five additional places for a gearbox change and a further three places for a yellow flag infringement. As a result, he started nineteenth.

The Red Bull driver went on to deliver much of the race’s excitement with a fine drive to fifth place. The race took place on Verstappen’s 21st birthday and he made up fourteen places to fifth place in the first eight laps of the race!

The 2021 Russian Grand Prix takes place at Sochi Autodrom on 24-26 September.