Formula 1: Russian Grand Prix
Venue: Sochi, Russia
Race Date: 26th September 2021
With the dramatic crash between Championship leaders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton still fresh in the memory, attention turns to Sochi and the Russian Grand Prix. Verstappen holds a minimal 5 point lead over Hamilton following all the drama at Monza and the stakes simply could not be higher heading to Russia. Daniel Riccardo made a welcome return to the winner’s enclosure in Italy and he along with the likes of Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas will be looking to feature heavily in the podium places here, as the end of the season is very much on the horizon.
Sochi will provide the perfect back drop to a superb weekend of racing in Russia this weekend and plenty of big name drivers will fancy their chances.
Defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton certainly hasn’t had things all his own way this season and he looks to be embroiled in a real battle with Max Verstappen this season. The crash at Monza last time out was indicative of the growing tension between the pair and Hamilton will need to call upon all of his big race experience to get over the line here. He does enjoy the conditions in Sochi, and he will be relishing the chance to get back racing there this weekend.
Championship leader Max Verstappen appeared to be feeling the heat at the Italian Grand Prix and crashing out in such dramatic fashion added more weight to the growing fears the Dutchman is perhaps over-thinking the race for the title this season. He holds a slender 5 point lead over Lewis Hamilton and how he would love to keep the Brit at arm’s length for as long as possible as the end of the season looms large.
Finn Valtteri Bottas has had his exit from Mercedes confirmed in recent weeks and that looks to have given him an increased sense of freedom. He drove with real quality at Monza to pinch a podium place and he returns to a track where he is well supported and has enjoyed plenty of success previously. Usurping the likes of Hamilton and Verstappen will be no easy task but with attention naturally elsewhere, Bottas could sneak under the radar here.
Brit Lando Norris has been one of the most consistent performers on the grid this season and yet another podium finish at Monza only underlined that. He is racing in an excellent McLaren car, and he has proven to be a fiery competitor in the key moments too. He is an outsider in this field in Sochi, but should the big boys get all caught up at the front of the grid, Norris looks well priced to pick up the pieces.
First Driver to Retire
Sochi is a good test for all of the drivers on the grid and there is sure to be drama with so much on the line at the Russian Grand Prix:
Williams have enjoyed a relatively steady season this term, thanks in the main to the consistent showings from George Russell. Nicholas Latifi has struggled in the same car this term however and he could be a candidate to bomb out early here in Russia.
Alpine driver Fernando Alonso hasn’t enjoyed the return to Formula One many people hoped he would have had and although he certainly doesn’t have the best car on the grid, his performances have been a little underwhelming this season.
Top Six Finish
Points are key at the later stages of the Formula One season and every driver on the grid will be vying to finish as high up the leader board as possible in Sochi:
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has been in good form for his new team all season and the Mexican looks to now be getting to grips with the car in all conditions – making him a candidate to feature in the top 6 this weekend.
Ferrari have endured a relatively quiet season with Charles Leclerc not having enjoyed his best campaign either. He picked up a 4th place finish in Monza last time out and how he would love to build on that here in Russia.
Frenchman Pierre Gasly is a superbly talented driver and having shown glimpses of real quality throughout the season, he will be eager to put in another strong showing here – especially after crashing out at Monza last weekend.
F1 Russian Grand Prix Best Bets:
Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton – 10/11
First Driver to Retire: Nicholas Latifi – 10/1
Top Six Finish: Sergio Perez – 1/2