Russian Grand Prix: Five Things to Look Forward to

Published 04/29/2016, 1:56 AM EDT
Russian Grandprix

The 2016 Russian Grand Prix will be the first European race of the season, as it was brought forward from 2015. With Nico Rosberg having all the momentum, Red Bull showing consistency, Haas and Toro Rosso dominating the midfield, it’s a twist against the expected standings after 3 races in the season. Sochi which has been won by Lewis Hamilton only could possibly see a new winner in the 3 running of the Russian Grand Prix.


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The Mercedes position.

Nico, the man of the season so far.

Rosberg has had mixed success at the Sochi Autodrom. Finishing 2 in 2014, he had a DNF in 2015 which pretty much ended any minimal hope he had of beating Lewis to the title last year. This year, he will want to really continue to press his advantage at top of the standings.

Rosberg, who is the first driver since Michael Schumacher in 2000 to win the first 3 races of the season now holds a 36 point advantage over second placed Lewis Hamilton. No matter what the result may be at Sochi, he will leave at the top of the standings. However, if he is serious about his title ambitions, he will want to secure his first win at the track, becoming the first other than Lewis to win here.

Lewis himself has not had the best starts to the season, with problems in Bahrain and China. He is well off the pace in his quest to win his 3 World Championship in a row, as Nico continues to gather momentum. It’s still a long way to go, but Nico has a large lead at this point, which could grow if he does not get his act together. Incredibly, the champ does not feel that worried, yet.

He also ought to worry about the Ferraris and Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo and Vettel are within striking distance, and Kimi has an outside chance of catching up. The pressure is really on Lewis to show his class here or risk coming under increased pressure from Ferrari and Red Bull.


The Ferrari cars colliding at the start of the Chinese Grandprix

Ferrari have not had an ideal start to the season, finishing with just 1 car in the first couple of races of the season. Kimi who suffered damage at Shanghai, was able to finish a respectable 5.  Russia in 2015 saw a strong run from both Ferraris before a collision saw Kimi limp home down the order.

Ferrari, seem to have sorted out their engine troubles from the initial couple of races which is good to see. Both have shown pace, and the issue at Shanghai between the two (and Dannii) has been cleared. Ferrari will be aiming at a double podium or a race win, a tall ask but a do-able one.

Both drivers have been on the second step of the podium, and will be looking forward to being on the podium together. It’s a good time for them to strike, and a solid qualifying performance (not like the one shown by Seb at Shanghai) will put them in a prime position to do so, and propel both up the drivers standings, and consolidating second in the constructors.

A Prancing Horse victory cannot be ruled out here.

Danii Kvyat

The Russian had a strong race at Shanghai. Now, he celebrated his 22 Birthday on the 26, and is now racing on his home Grand Prix, there is momentum for him. Last season, he did establish himself as Daniel Riccardo’s equal and will want to close the gap to his teammate. Russia has been particularly a good circuit for him with good finishes in his previous attempts (14 with Toro Rosso back then was good). In 2016, he is the only non Mercedes or non Ferrari driver to climb onto the podium.

With some good momentum, including standing up to Sebastian backstage, it’s a good opportunity for him to score more points or a podium here at his home race. It might foster some good competition between the two as they propel Red Bull up the constructors, who are not facing as much competition from Williams.


Russian Grandprix tyre choices

The tyres allotted for the grand prix are the Super Softs (Red), Softs (Yellow) and Medium (Silver) tyres. Except for Manor, who have two sets of Medium tyres a piece, every other team has taken one set. They have 5 Softs and 6 Super softs as well.

The most aggressive outlook is from Haas F1 (which has a good chance to score points here), Red Bull Racing and Williams who have taken 2 sets of Softs and 10 sets of Super softs and Williams who have 3 sets of Softs and 9 Super Softs. Mercedes, Toro Rosso and Force India have 4 sets of Softs and 8 sets of Super Softs. Sauber, McLaren, Renault and Ferrari are more balanced with 5 Softs and 7 Super soft sets and the Prancing Horse taking 6 sets of each tyre.

Either the teams are confident about the durability of the Super Softs or just want to race hard at Sochi (which should be having a lower track temperature as compared to the previous races this season). Ferrari are in a position to either go all out as well on the Super Softs or go longer, with the Softs. It will be interesting to see how Red Bull Racing uses its ultra-aggressive strategy.



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Bottas who has struggled this season, collided with Hamilton at Bahrain

For the last couple of seasons, Williams were the 3 best team in F1. Whilst not with the best machine, they do possess a strong line up in Massa and Bottas. 2016 however, has not been the best of years for the team as they have struggled.


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Massa has been fairly consistent in his performances but Bottas, considered an upcoming Grand Prix winner has struggled with just 9 and 10 place finishes this season. Williams are behind Ferrari and Red Bull by some margin.

Sochi can be a good starting point for the team to recover from its struggling fortunes and try to make a challenge for 3 place in the constructors once again, and fight for more podium places.




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