The race is over.
First place: Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari are bang in form and will be looking to extend their promising run at the Sochi Autodrom. Despite only finishing second in Singapore, Charles Leclerc still impressed and has been on the podium in the last three races. Max Verstappen continues to plug away, but few would have predicted that he’d come ahead of both Mercedes drivers in Singapore. Russia isn’t typically the track for huge upsets, so form will be playing on all their minds going into the weekend’s Grand Prix.
Russia hosts the 16th race of the season. It is once again about sub-plots, rather than plot twists, in the Championship, but there are certainly plenty of the former still to be enjoyed. Will Singapore have proved a turning point for Vettel? Can Leclerc get back on top? And what on earth is going on with Bottas? All these questions could be answered in Russia.
Teams will be looking to learn some lessons from their tyre selections too after last weekend’s problems – especially for Mercedes. Sochi is at least expected to be dry.
The irony is that Vettel’s triumph last time out may have given Leclerc renewed confidence in Ferrari’s engine. The 21-year-old voiced his displeasure with Ferrari bosses, but he ought to be in buoyant mood – particularly as there is little to play for at the summit of the Championship regardless. Leclerc’s recent wins in Belgium and Italy suggest he should be among the favourites in Russia.
Leclerc to win
Hamilton spent so much time lagging behind in Singapore. The world champion seems to be inexplicably trailing off over the past couple of months, essentially since it became apparent the title race was all but over. Nobody will want to write Hamilton off, but a fourth-placed finish last time out will have many feeling reluctant to back him.
Hamilton to win
Bottas has not exactly been at his best, but there are few tracks that he enjoys competing on more. In 2018, he secured pole in qualifying before finishing second. Even when he hasn’t made the podium, there have often been mitigating factors.
Bottas to win
Head to Head
Since Formula 1 returned to Russia in 2014, Lewis Hamilton has won more races there than anyone else, finishing top of the pile on three occasions.
Mercedes have an even better record in Russia, Bottas and Nico Rosberg winning in 2017 and 2016 respectively while driving for the Silver Arrows.
Hamilton’s win in 2018 was marred by controversy, with Bottas robbed of victory by Mercedes’ team orders forcing him to step aside and allow his teammate to overtake him.
Leclerc to win 19/10
Leclerc came seventh in last year’s Russian Grand Prix when he was still up-and-coming. This time around, he is the most in-form contender going into qualifying, taking 68 points from his last three races. Hamilton, by contrast, has taken 46. Leclerc will have one eye over his shoulder as he looks to move clear of Verstappen and continue building momentum in the second half of the season.
John Abrams is a passionate sports fanatic who follows NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB and Formula 1. A former sports trader, John has an unquestioned thirst for sports knowledge and often fills his time playing fantasy or placing wagers online.
All tips by John Abrams