Russian Grand Prix Betting Tips & Preview – Sunday 30th September 2018

Russian Grand Prix Track Guide

The clock is ticking for any potential title challenge by Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver is now a full 40 points shy of his rival, and he can expect to struggle to win the title from here. This weekend’s Russian Grand Prix is make or break for the Scuderia, but can they edge out the in-form Hamilton or will he extend that lead once again?

The world champion is on a roll right now, and after his excellent form of late we struggle to see him falling short here. While Ferrari are up against it, it does feel like they have left it too late. They have had plenty of praise for their pace this season, but in spite of that the season has passed them by.

Top Tips

Lewis Hamilton to win @ 11/10

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

Russia was a gaping market for F1 for a long time, with brief races in the 1910s not being followed up. This weekend’s race in Sochi is the fifth of a seven year deal, with all of the Grands Prix taking place at the Sochi Autodrom. Last year’s race here was held in April, but the campaign returns much later in the season this time around.

RoundCountryCircuitRace Distance
16/21 Russia Sochi Autodrom 309km / 53 Laps

Schedule

 DateStart TimeFinish TimeForecast ConditionsTV Coverage
Practice 1 Fri 28th Sept 09:00 10:30 Dry / 19° -
Practice 2 Fri 28th Sept 13:00 14:30 Dry / 21° -
Practice 3 Sat 29th Sept 10:00 11:30 Dry / 21° -
Qualifying Sat 29th Sept 13:00 14:00 Dry / 22° Sky F1
Race Sun 30th Sept 12:10 14:10 Dry / 22° Sky F1

Last Season's Result (2017)

Last year brought more success for Mercedes at this circuit, but it wasn’t for Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas claimed maximum points in Sochi last time out, and that dented early good form by leader Sebastian Vettel. That win kept the two Mercedes drivers and Vettel close in the standings, but over the season Hamilton came out on top.

Kimi Raikkonen had a strong year here last time out, but after a fifth placed finish in Singapore it’s hard to see a repeat in 2018. This race brought problems from the start for Hamilton, as he finished fourth in qualifying behind a Ferrari 1-2. However, that advantage didn’t work for the Scuderia, which is a worry going in to the weekend.

PositionDriverCarGrid PositionPoints
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 3 25
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 18
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2 15
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 4 12
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 7 10
6 Sergio Perez Force India 9 8
7 Esteban Ocon Force India 10 6
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 8 4
9 Felipe Massa Williams 6 2
10 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 14 1

Race News: Ferrari Look to Future

Ferrari’s team boss Maurizio Arrivabene has claimed that they were forced to look towards the future by the changing face of F1. They have moved to bring in Charles Leclerc to partner Vettel next season, replacing Raikkonen after years of service. However, they did feel it was time for a change, and the Scuderia noticed a pattern elsewhere.

Ferrari pointed to Red Bull and McLaren’s moves to freshen up their drivers, while Mercedes previously received praise for moving to bring in Valtteri Bottas. Leclerc, a graduate of the Ferrari programme for young drivers, seems like forward planning for the Italian team. Meanwhile, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff made it clear that they have no plan in place to deal with their pile-up of talent, which includes rookie George Russell and Esteban Ocon.

Analysis: Unhappy Hunting Ground for Ferrari

Sochi has been a tough place for Ferrari in recent years, and they come here having seen Mercedes win all four of the races here in recent years. In fact, the two races held in 1913 and 1914 even saw the early Mercedes team claim a win, so history is certainly on their side.

Of the Grand Prix here, only one man has managed more than one victory: Lewis Hamilton. He secured wins in 2014 and 2015, and it’s going to be a hat-trick that he has his eye on. After some brilliant form across recent races, the Brit is the main contender here, as he looks to rack up points and get over the line in the title battle.

Final Verdict: Hamilton To Win

Hamilton’s form since the German Grand Prix has seen him pull away at the top, and Vettel just can’t keep up. The champion has won four of his last five races, claiming 118 points from a possible 125 in that time. That form has put him clear at the top, and now he’s looking to finish the job as we approach the final stretches of the 2018 campaign.

Hamilton can’t officially win the title yet, but if Vettel slips up here and falls down the standings then his hopes are all but done. Even if Hamilton only picks up a seven point advantage from this race, he’s still going to be 47 points clear with just five races remaining. The pace of the champion has brought him to the verge of another title, and we’re backing him to get maximum points here. Despite his recent results, Hamilton is well priced at 11/10 in this race. Given Mercedes’ record here, Bottas looks value to finish on the podium at 8/11, too.

About

Sochi Autodrom, Russia Grand Prix 2014
Russian Grand Prix 2014 © premier.gov.ru (cc-by-sa/4.0)

Russia is one of more recent additions to the F1 calendar. The first championship race was held in 2014 and since then has seen a lot of praise for both the Sochi Autodrom track and the set-up of facilities that are based around the track.

The initial plans were for the race to be brought in around the 2010 season, but with the preparation of the Winter Olympic games in 2014, it was decided that the best timing would be upon completion of this. The track runs around the Olympic village and, as such, signed a 7-year deal, running from 2014 onwards.

Track Highlights

Sochi Autodrom Track
CaterhamF1, Flickr

The spectacular Sochi Autodrom, which played host to both the Olympic and Paralympic winter games, weaves its way around the Olympic park. The 5.85km circuit runs clockwise, consisting of 12 right and 6 left hand corners, combining technical sections, with 2 long, high speed straights.

The track is fourth longest in the F1 calendar, with good overtaking spots at turn 2 and 13, as well as 2 DRS zones, allowing drivers to really push the cars to their limits. Sochi is one of six cities that has hosted both an Olympic games and a World Championship Grand Prix.

The drivers head across the start finish line and through turn 1, absolutely flat out. The corner is more of an inconvenience more than a challenge as they fight for position of the line. They then approach speeds well in excess of 330kmph as they fly through the first DRS zone.

The cars then run through the tight and tricky turn 2 before immediately hitting turn 3, which is longest on the track and feels as though it’s never ending, such is the severity of the corner. The corner causes huge G force on the neck of the driver and whilst many choose to take quite a tight line, there are many different lines that drivers can take to get the maximum performance from their cars.

Turn 4 and 5 are both pretty straight forward, although the former does tighten which can appear to give drivers more room than they have. Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas famously came together here in 2015.

The drivers are then faced with a kink at turn 6, which they take flat out and doesn’t really affect them, before heading into another tight run at 7 before running down to turns 8 and 9 where the track starts to get a little more interesting.

These corners are designed to really work the car and it’s imperative that drivers are able to get a good line into turn 8 to ensure that they are able to get a good drive out of turn 9. It’s also an area that works the right-hand side of the tyres very highly, which is something that needs to be monitored by the teams throughout the race.

Cars have to work through a big stop down into 10 and it’s important they nail the line once again in order to get a good drive through the long DRS Zone and through turn 11 as well. The drivers are then faced with a tricky breaking zone going into turn 13, which sees them have a lot of lateral load as a result.

Immediately from turn 13 is turn 14 and the drivers will be struggling with oversteer here for the most part, kissing the apex on the way out and using as much of the track as possible. Down towards 15 and 16 is the “Monte Carlo” section of the racetrack where the drivers need to feed the car through the “s” bends. No heroics can be made here and it’s a matter of coasting through to get maximum grip as they come into the final few corners of the track.

The cars run down into turn 17 where they take at speed, before having another tricky breaking zone before the final corner, essentially losing all momentum as they run back towards the start finish line. This final section is one where cars with lower downforce really have an advantage here as they are able to get on the power quickly, through the gears and take on the overtaking sections in turn 2.

History

Olympics 2014 at Sochi Autodrom
CaterhamF1, Flickr

The track took three years to make, after breaking ground in 2011 before being completed shortly before the start of the Winter Olympic games in 2014. It’s been incorporated as part of the Olympic village at a cost of almost $200 million.

The award of the Russian Grand Prix to Sochi came on the back of almost 30 year’s worth of work to bring Formula 1 racing to Russia. Many bids were abandoned for “bureaucratic reasons” and several failed attempts were made in that time. The final green light was given by the FIA in 2014, allowing the 2014 Russian Grand Prix to go ahead, with the winner, Lewis Hamilton, receiving his award from the president, Vladimir Putin.

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