Ferrari are coming on strong in the second half of the 2019 Formula 1 season, winning each of the last three Grand Prix races. Can they make it four victories on the spin in Russia this Sunday? The drivers flock to Sochi for the 16th Grand Prix of the season. After this, there are only five races left on the 2019 F1 calendar, and though Lewis Hamilton is still top of the standings, there is still a chance he could be caught.
Drivers’ Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who is the 7/4 favourite to win in Sochi, will want to get back to winning ways after watching Ferrari dominate the last few rounds. The British ace has not won a Grand Prix since his victory in Hungary back in early August. Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, has won two of the last three, finishing second in Singapore last time out behind teammate Sebastian Vettel.
The 2019 Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom promises to be a fascinating race. It will be the eighth running of the Russian GP and the sixth held at the Sochi circuit. Hamilton won in Russia on the way to his fifth World Championship title last year. The Brit has been the most successful driver of this particular Grand Prix, winning in Russia on three occasions (2014, 2015 and 2018). Can Hamilton reign supreme in Sochi for a fourth time this Sunday?
|16/21||Russia||Sochi Autodrom||310km / 53 Laps|
|Date||Start Time||Finish Time||Forecast Conditions||TV Coverage|
|Practice 1||Fri 27th September||09:00||10:30||Dry / 24°||–|
|Practice 2||Fri 27th September||13:00||14:30||Dry / 24°||–|
|Practice 3||Sat 28th September||10:00||14:00||Wet / 21°||–|
|Qualifying||Sat 28th September||13:00||14:00||Wet / 21°||Sky F1|
|Race||Sun 29th September||12:10||14:10||Dry / 22°||Sky F1|
Last Season’s Result (2018)
Hamilton won a memorable Russian Grand Prix in Sochi last year. The Stevenage-born driver started behind teammate Valtteri Bottas on the grid, but he went on to win the race in controversial fashion. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel picked up the bronze medal in Krasnodar.
Hamilton entered the round with a 40-point lead over title rival Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship, which he extended after winning the race. The Grand Prix was one of controversy, though, as Mercedes swapped their drivers to give Hamilton the win. Will we be treated to even more drama in Sochi this time around?
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||19||10|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||18||8|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Force India||6||2|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||8||1|
Analysis: Sochi a Superb Spectacle
After last year’s controversy, the 2019 Russian Grand Prix promises to produce more fireworks on this thrilling track. Hamilton, who has a 65-point lead at the top of the standings, is the bookies’ favourite to come out on top in Russia. Having gone three rounds without a win, the leader will be keen to get back on top of the podium at the weekend.
Leclerc is the second favourite at 15/8, with teammate Vettel, who claimed his first win of the season in Singapore, available at the tempting price of 3/1. Meanwhile, Mercedes man Bottas has not quite been at it lately, finishing on the podium just twice in the last five Grand Prix rounds. The Finn, who finished in fifth place at the Marina Bay Street Circuit last weekend, is priced at the big odds of 6/1 to win for the first time since Azerbaijan in April.
Will Ferrari Prevail Again?
Since the mid-season break, Ferrari have really come on strong in the last three rounds. Leclerc picked up his first Grand Prix win with victory in Belgium, which he followed up with a memorable triumph in Italy. Vettel had a Grand Prix to forget at Spa, but the German was back on top in Singapore last Sunday, beating teammate Leclerc to the line.
Ferrari have closed the gap in the World Constructors’ Championship standings, though they are still a whopping 133 points adrift of runaway leaders Mercedes. Nevertheless, can Ferrari pick up a fourth successive Grand Prix win at the weekend?
Can Mercedes Return to Winning Ways?
Team Mercedes have had to be patient in the last few Grands Prix, with Hamilton picking up second places in Belgium and Italy. Last time out, though, Mercedes were off the podium altogether, with Vettel winning, Leclerc the runner-up and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking home the bronze medal in Singapore. Hamilton will be more than eager to secure a ninth Grand Prix victory of the season in Russia at the weekend, and he has every chance.
Three Wins in Four for Leclerc?
Leclerc has really made a name for himself in recent weeks. The 21 year old became the first Monegasque Grand Prix winner with his triumph at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on 1st September, which he followed up with a famous win for Ferrari in Monza. Leclerc had to settle for second place as fellow Ferrari driver won in Singapore last time out, but the youngster is more than capable of winning in Russia this Sunday. At the tempting odds of 15/8, we’re backing Leclerc to win in Sochi.
About the Russian Grand Prix
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.
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.
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.