Coming off an impressive row of three consecutive wins, Ferrari is about to face one pretty hard task. The Russian Grand Prix in Sochi is the place where Prancing Horse never won. This is Mercedes’ backyard and the track which suits the Silver Arrows perfectly. However, the momentum is on Ferrari’s side, and we are about to see can they handle their biggest opponents and post another win.
The season became much more interesting in the last few weeks. With Ferrari’s improvement and the rising Charles Leclerc, it appears that the F1 caravan got another dimension. Simply, the Italians brought a breath of fresh air into the competition after a dull and boring period in which Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dominated without any problems. Though, we need to say that Ferrari suffered several major blows in the first part of the campaign, and that they didn’t have the slightest of luck, which pretty much frustrated their drivers. That especially applies to Sebastian Vettel. However, the win in Singapore definitely removed some of the pressure from the German, and he will be more relaxed coming into this event.
Meanwhile, Leclerc is slowly becoming a superstar. With three consecutive pole positions in a row, the young Monegasque is turning the spotlight from other drivers on him, and it seems that Mercedes’ domination has been heavily damaged precisely because of this. They can’t count on having pole positions anymore, which in many cases allowed them to have a perfect situation for implementing their tactics on the track.
Some might believe that this doesn’t have too much of an influence on the race, but it really isn’t like that. In the majority of cases, Hamilton’s perfect driving wasn’t just a product of a fantastic vehicle, and his driving skills, but also a consequence of the Silver Arrows’ ideal strategy. With fast Ferraris and Leclerc who is ahead of them at the start of the race, this isn’t possible.
Still, Hamilton is the absolute favorite for winning the title, and if not the biggest for taking each Grand Prix then at least among top three. And this will be his perfect opportunity for bouncing back after three races without a win.
The enigmas for this event are Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas. The young Dutchman showed some signs of life in Singapore, getting back on the podium following two awful races in Italy and Belgium. Bottas, on the other hand, finished fifth during the past weekend but had two podiums prior that.
Having in mind that the weather might be unstable, we could say that these two guys are the perfect profiles for a dark horse here.
Sochi is Mercedes’ playground. Ever since Formula 1 came here in 2014, the German team was on the highest place on the podium. Three times it was Hamilton who won, Nico Rosberg and Bottas have once won each. Mercedes that is Benz was winning here in Russia a century ago, in 1913 and 1914. Those races were held in Saint Petersburg.
As we said, the weather might be problematic in Sochi, and that is why we would like to go with some safe bets, and avoid risks. The odds for Charles Leclerc to finish among top 3 drivers are solid, and that is our choice in this preview. If you are keen on taking on some risk, then go with his win, as the youngster looks very confident, and was the fastest on Friday’s practice session.