Trackside Tipster
Topic

Trackside Tipster

F1 Form Guide: Russian Grand Prix

Verstappen long-shot, Hamilton’s race to lose and a podium for Carlos Sainz? Here are our top tips for this weekend in Sochi.

F1 Form Guide: Russian Grand Prix
Listen to this article

If you fancy a punt on the Russian Grand Prix, or just want a wager with your mates, we’ve pulled together some insights that could help you have the upper hand. Here is all you need to know.

Is Verstappen worth a punt?

Red Bull’s decision to serve an engine penalty on Max Verstappen’s car and start him from the back of the grid has massively lengthened his odds – which means he could actually be worth a punt.

In 2018, he was forced to start from the back and went from last to first before his first pit stop. He ended up fifth, 30 seconds behind winner Hamilton, but that was in a car that was the third best on the grid.

Verstappen’s Red Bull is now far better. Better even than it was last year, when he finished second here just seven seconds behind Bottas (albeit with Hamilton hampered by penalties).

The long straight gives him a great chance of picking up a tow and picking off the cars in front. He has suggested some of the midfielders could be tough to get past, but if he gets on a charge, there could be no stopping him.

Realistically, something would have to go wrong with one of the Mercedes for him to get right to the front, but stranger things have happened.

Fans invade the circuit at the end of the race

Fans invade the circuit at the end of the race

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hamilton hard to beat

Even before Verstappen’s penalty, Lewis Hamilton was a massive favourite for victory this weekend. Unless his Red Bull rival achieves the feat mentioned above, there is now even less that could stop him.

History is on Hamilton’s side. Since F1 first raced around Sochi’s streets in 2014, Mercedes has won all seven events and taken pole in all but two. Hamilton has won four times and last year Valtteri Bottas notched up his second victory.

Early signs suggest that the reigning champions are in prime position to maintain their unbeaten run, and with Bottas revealing he is prepared to take team orders, even he will not keep Hamilton from the top step.

Forgotten Ferrari form puts Sainz in the mix

Ferrari have been flailing recently, but history says this is a track that suits them.

No other team has got more consistently close to Mercedes in Russia, with two poles (Vettel in 2017 and Leclerc in 2019) and a bunch of top-three finishes. In fact, these two teams have filled all but three of the 21 podium positions.

Last year was an anomaly, as the team was in a dark place, but they are now firmly back on track. Cooler temperatures are set to play into their hands, particularly in the challenging final sector, so they could be on for a podium.

Charles Leclerc has finished ahead of Carlos Sainz the last three races, but there is only a few tenths in it. If the latter can set things up well for qualifying, he could tip the balance in his favour.

Of the two, Sainz is best value for a podium or to be the ‘winner without the big four’ but he is an even bigger long-shot for victory – and with Verstappen playing catch-up his chances have, albeit only slightly, increased.

Olympic buildings inside the circuit

Olympic buildings inside the circuit

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

 Alpine could show mid-pack strength

This is one of the widest open seasons in recent memory for podiums, with eight of the ten teams now appearing there at least once.

After the top two, McLaren has reached the podium most with five. Ferrari follow on three and the rest have just one each, with Alpine’s wet race and Williams’ even luckier ‘non-race’ the most fortunate.

That also means there is huge variability in the top six finishing spots. If form follows last year, McLaren had a disaster but Renault – now Alpine – ran strong and Esteban Ocon has finished in the points every time he has raced in Russia.

Can Mazepin make it on home soil?

At the back of the field, the odds on Russia’s home hero Nikita Mazepin are pretty interesting. Not for points or winning – but for being the first to retire. Especially given he has failed to finish in three of the last four races.


F1 is not a game of chance. It’s a game of strategy. So is winning big in casino or poker. See where your strategy can get you. https://promo.partycasino.com/en/promo/lp/50fs/motorsport

18+, UK residents only, T&Cs Apply, Gamble Responsibly

shares
comments
Why Verstappen has taken an F1 engine penalty and Hamilton hasn't
Previous article

Why Verstappen has taken an F1 engine penalty and Hamilton hasn't

Next article

Gasly surprised by "fragile" F1 front wing break in FP2

Gasly surprised by "fragile" F1 front wing break in FP2
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Prime

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Prime

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Motorsport.com in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Prime

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Prime

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second-best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot.

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022