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

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
Load comments
How Ferrari gained a new edge over McLaren in F1 2021 battle Prime

How Ferrari gained a new edge over McLaren in F1 2021 battle

Supremacy in the McLaren vs Ferrari fight over third place in the constructors’ championship has ebbed and flowed between the two teams so far in the 2021 Formula 1 season. But for several key reasons, right now it seems the advantage has swung decisively back to the Scuderia and McLaren knows it.

The details that boosted Verstappen and held back Hamilton in Austin Prime

The details that boosted Verstappen and held back Hamilton in Austin

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

Formula 1
Oct 25, 2021
US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon in Texas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Formula 1
Oct 25, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement Prime

Why a misunderstood Kimi Raikkonen will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man Anthony Peacock explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it).

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
How Verstappen has become F1 champion material Prime

How Verstappen has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle Prime

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be set to be another close contest.

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Prime

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021