Times – GMT+3
28 April: Practice 1 (11:00) / Practice 2 (15:00)
29 April: Practice 3 (12:00) / Qualifying (15:00)
30 April: Race (15:00)
Track: Sochi Autodrome
Location: Sochi, Russia
First race: 2014
Length: 5.848 km/ 3.633 m
Fastest lap: 1:39.094 (Nico Rosberg, 2016)
2016 winner: Nico Rosberg
F1 returns to Russia this week for the forth running of the Russian grand prix. Since this race was introduced at the start of Mercedes dominant streak it has been their track and their track alone. Not only have they won every race, they have led every lap of every race. Could that be broken by new rivals Ferrari? It’s unlikely, given that strategy plays little to no part in this race (remember when Rosberg locked up in turn 1, lap 1? he then took a set of mediums to the end) sheer pace will be more of a factor. The reason for Rosberg’s feat in 2014 is the track is almost completely flat and the tarmac is so fresh it barley degraded the tyres.
Hamilton has won two of the last tree races with Rosberg taking the last of his four opening race wins here last year. Hamilton’s new team mate Bottas has only managed third, but he did get on the front row in 2014 where he came close to getting pole.
On the other hand Ferrari for all the have had podiums here are yet to start on the front row, and given they are seemingly second best this year they could be on target to break that record.
It will also be a race of strong feelings for Daniil Kvyat. After getting a podium in the previous race for Red Bull last year, his crash with Vettel landed him back in a Toro rosso being replaced by the youngest ever driver to start a race Max Verstappen. If anything it was lucky he was in a Red Bull, it meant there was somewhere for him to go when demoted. Had it been any other team it would have meant losing a race seat.
Carlos Sainz also had a memorable moment here in 2015 losing it massively at turn 12 and burying his car in the barriers at turn 13 during FP1 in 2015. he was rushed to hospital but later cleared to race.
Grosjean also had big crash at turn 3 the same year.
Speaking of turn 3, with the new regulations it should be faster than ever and pulling much higher G’s than before. This could mean we see more over taking there but given how wide the track is it’s not the only place to look out for.
Top 3 prediction