Ferrari secured victory in Bahrain two weeks ago with a bold strategy play and a strong drive from Sebastian Vettel but it is Mercedes who may have the edge at this weekend’s Formula One Russian Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 13:00 BST, live on Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1).
Vettel made an early undercut work out for him and controlled the race from there on out to take a comfortable victory ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the two Mercedes. Ferrari again showed strong pace in warmer conditions, although Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen was unable to seriously challenge the podium places from fourth.
Tyre wear was again an issue for Mercedes but those problems should be reduced at this weekend’s race in Sochi. The cool temperatures and smooth surface should allow them to better manage their tyres and take advantage of their strong qualifying form – three out of three poles to date – to lead from the front and take victory on Sunday.
Hamilton emerged victorious from the Russian Grand Prix of 2014 and 2015 and fought back from 10th on the grid to finish second at last year’s event. He looks to have a fairly comfortable advantage over new teammate Bottas and is therefore well placed to match Vettel on two wins for the season by topping the podium this weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo came home fifth for Red Bull in Bahrain, with his teammate Max Verstappen retiring due to a brake failure. The team don’t expect to be able to compete on a level footing with the top-two teams this weekend but are hopeful that a set of upgrades planned for the Spanish Grand Prix in May will allow them to do so going forward.
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Felipe Massa drove a very solid race to secure his and Williams’ second sixth-place finish of the year. The team currently look to have a decent pace advantage over the other midfield runners and Massa was even able to make life relatively difficult for Ricciardo in the Red Bull.
Massa has finished fourth and fifth in the last two Russian Grand Prix and Williams have a good record at the circuit that also includes a podium finish for Bottas back in 2014.
Massa’s new teammate Lance Stroll has so far struggled to match the pace of the experienced Brazilian. He has qualified at least four places below him in each of the three races to date and has gone on to record three non-finishes, with his degree of blame varying. But he gradually seems to be getting the hang of things and will be keen to produce a solid drive this weekend to show that he belongs in Formula One.
Williams have displayed the necessary pace to secure double points finishes so far this season and Russia could well be the Grand Prix at which they are finally able to pull it off.
The remaining points-paying positions in Bahrain were filled out by Sergio Perez’s Force India, the Haas of Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and the second Force India of Esteban Ocon.
Grosjean’s eighth place represented a second consecutive points finish for the Haas team. They struggled a bit for pace at Sochi last year but were nevertheless able to secure a points finish and appear optimistic as to their chances of repeating that this time around.
Kevin Magnussen was the man behind Haas’ points finish in China two races ago and has performed very well in both of his previous Russian Grand Prix appearances. He qualified sixth and finished fifth for McLaren in the debut year in 2014 and then secured his and the Renault team’s best result of last year with a seventh place finish. He looks solidly placed to maintain his strong record at the circuit with a points finish on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 Russian Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
Our preview recommends the following betting tips for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix:
- Back Lewis Hamilton to win the race @ best odds of evens with Coral or Ladbrokes.
- Bet on Williams to secure a double points finish @ 7/4 with Stan James.
- Back Kevin Magnussen to finish in the points @ 11/8 with SkyBet.
- Compare the Latest F1 Russian Grand Prix and Drivers Title betting odds here.