Ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, ROB WATTS picks 5 talking points to look ahead to.
A Lewis Hamilton Fightback
If Nico Rosberg wins in Sochi, he’ll be almost fifty points clear of his three time World Champion teammate, and that’s assuming Hamilton finishes second. Many consider Hamilton to be the faster driver, and they’re probably right, but winning becomes a habit for drivers in their peak, and halting Rosberg’s momentum may prove difficult.
There’s plenty of time to overhaul the points deficit, but for Hamilton, the psychological battle is perhaps what matters most this weekend.
A Trouble-Free Weekend For Ferrari
After three races, it still feels like we’re yet to see Ferrari’s true potential. After being locked out of the front row in Shanghai, Sebastian Vettel’s first-lap collision with Kimi Raikkonen all but ended their hopes of a win, and despite his attempts to deflect the blame onto Daniil Kvyat, Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne was less than impressed.
Above all else, Ferrari need a clean and trouble-free weekend in Sochi to really show what they can do, but after a disappointing start, the pressure is already building.
Who Will Gamble On Tyre Strategy?
There’s probably no circuit kinder on tyres than the Sochi Autodrom, and in the past we’ve seen drivers last more than 40 laps on a single set of rubber.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams all arrive in Russia having different ideas on the optimal tyre choice for this weekend, and both Red Bull and Haas look to have the most aggressive strategy, with each having ten sets of the supersoft tyre.
Previously a straightforward one-stopper, this year a two-stop strategy could prove to be the quickest, and for some, a three-stop strategy may for the first time become a viable option.
A Glimpse Into The Future
Red Bull will provide a glimpse of their proposed cockpit canopy solution and if you haven’t seen it yet, we can assure you it at least looks better than the halo!
Red Bull have been developing the concept in partnership with the FIA and the plan is for one of the Red Bull cars to run the device for an installation lap during FP1. The halo device that Ferrari tested during pre-season testing drew harsh criticism for its ‘ugly’ appearance, but Red Bull seem confident their solution is the way forward.
The Red Bull vs. Williams battle
Red Bull look to have the edge on Williams so far this season, and they’ll head to Sochi with an in-form Daniel Ricciardo having his best ever start to a season, and local boy Daniil Kvyat full of confidence after a podium in the last race in China.
Williams, in comparison, have had a mixed start to the season, and Valtteri Bottas needs a strong result this weekend having trailed teammate Felipe Massa in the opening three round. Bottas needs no motivation, having been denied a podium in last year’s race following a last lap collision with fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen.