Formula One 2019 – Russian Grand Prix Preview & Prediction

THE FACTS

When does qualifying begin for the Russian Grand Prix? Saturday 28th September 13:00 (UK)

When does the race begin for the Russian Grand Prix? Sunday 29th September, 12:10 (UK)

What is the expected weather for the weekend? 20c for race day, sunny and cloudy.

What channel is the Russian Grand Prix on in the UK? Both the qualifying and race will be televised live on Sky Sport F1

Where can I stream the Russian Grand Prix in the UK? Sky Sports subscribers can stream the qualifying and race live on Sky Go

Where can I get tickets for the Russian Grand Prix? https://tickets.formula1.com/en/f1-3308-russia

Who won the 2018 Russian Grand Prix on? Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

FIVE KEY FACTORS

  • Ferrari are in amazing form after being triumphant in the last three races with victories at three completely different kinds of circuits. The updates Ferrari brought to Singapore have made the Italian team come alive and, while too late for 2019, it does suggest they will be battling for the 2020 championships.
  • The action moves to the Black Sea for the Russian GP. On paper, Sochi should be a Mercedes circuit but they will be concerned by the renewed Ferrari threat. In the aftermath of Singapore, Lewis Hamilton claimed Ferrari are more hungry than the Silver Arrows. Singapore-specialist Sebastian Vettel certainly was for his 53rd career win and his first victory in a year.
  • The Russian GP winds through the Sochi Olympic Village, consisting of 53 laps of neck-braking 90 degree corners paired with almost-straights. It is quite a long circuit, with the track surface known for being very smooth, yet slippery and tyre wear and degradation is relatively low. Mercedes have dominated Sochi and are expected to be favourites this weekend.
  • Red Bull are in danger of falling behind in the development race following Ferrari's resurgence. Since the summer break, a crash in Belgium and grid penalties in Italy have halted Max Verstappen's charge.
  • The big questions heading to Russia are whether Ferrari will be able to make it four-in-a-row in Sochi, whether Mercedes can bounce back, and how Charles Leclerc will respond following defeat by his team mate in strategic circumstances.

THE PREDICTION

The Russian GP has been dominated by Mercedes since 2014. In theory, they are the favourites for the chequered flag, but with three wins in as many races it is the Prancing Horse in-form and seeking to continue momentum.

The Singapore updates suggest Ferrari have solved their cornering speed and handling, whilst maintaining their straight-line speed advantage. With Russia back-to-back after Singapore, teams will have little time for new developments.

This should be a close battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, but with Ferrari making it four-on-the-trot. The question is whether Vettel's victory was a one-off, or whether Leclerc will be more determined following his lost win to a strategy undercut. Vettel could create further unrest within the team by winning this weekend.

TSZ Latest