Russian Grand Prix

Russian Grand Prix 2019 Preview

charles leclerc

Charles Leclerc

With just six Grand Prix races remaining in 2019, the Formula One calendar heads to Russia this weekend for one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the season. Lewis Hamilton is still firmly in control of the World Championship battle but Ferrari have won the last three Grand Prix events and the Constructors’ Championship race is starting to get interesting. It is time to strap yourselves in, sit back and watch one of the most exciting races of the year.

Charles Leclerc has won two of the previous three Grand Prix races with Sebastian Vettel coming up trumps in Singapore last weekend. Ferrari are 133 points behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ title race ahead of the trip to Sochi but the Italian giants are looking incredibly strong as we enter the business stage of the year – this could go right down to the wire and neutrals will be hoping that we get final day drama in Abu Dhabi.

Leclerc has been a breath of fresh air since joining Ferrari. The youngster has given the team a new lease of life and a hungry challenger has given Vettel some competition. Leclerc has a better record in terms of podiums and race wins in 2019 and Ferrari may now view their two drivers as equals going into the back end of the Formula One campaign.

Meanwhile, Hamilton has praised Ferrari for regaining their competitive edge since the mid-season summer break. The five-time world champion is still 65 points clear of nearest rival Valtteri Bottas while Leclerc has 96 points to make up to topple the defending champion. At the time of writing, Hamilton is a 1/100 shot to claim his sixth World Championship and you won’t find many punters backing the upset.

Should everything go to plan for the Mercedes man this weekend, Hamilton will be sitting pretty at the top of the podium after clinching his fourth Russian Grand Prix success. As of Thursday 26th September, Hamilton is a 15/8 shot with BetFred to claim his ninth Grand Prix win of 2019 and plenty of punters will fancy the British driver at that price. Two months ago, Hamilton was odds on to win on most Grand Prix weekends.

Incredibly, Mercedes have won all five Grand Prix events at Sochi since the race returned to Formula One in 2014. Hamilton has three of those triumphs while current teammate Bottas has one success to his name. Given their history at this venue, the 21/20 with SportingBet for either Mercedes driver to finish top of the podium has to be worth considering. Ferrari are on the rise but Mercedes have been strong at Sochi in previous years.

Bottas has won just two Grand Prix races so far this season and many believe that Mercedes should move on from the Finnish driver ahead of 2020. On the face of it, Bottas has enjoyed a quietly successful year though, with 11 podium finishes to Hamilton’s 12. Going up against the greatest Formula One driver of all-time is never easy and Bottas does a pretty good job considering Hamilton is clear as Mercedes’ priority.

Leclerc is the obvious danger – the Ferrari man has come into his own in recent months and you’d never guess that he was still developing in Formula One. Driving with the maturity of an experienced professional, Leclerc now has a competitive car under him and he believes in his own ability. Another win for the Ferrari man here will enhance his status as the team’s main threat in the World Championship race.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel notched his first Grand Prix win of 2019 last weekend and the German was as relieved as anyone to get off the mark. With four world titles to his name, Vettel is one of the most gifted drivers in the sport but it just hasn’t been his year for a number of reasons. Leclerc’s emergence as a Formula One powerhouse should spur Vettel on to try and outperform his teammate in the final six races of the 2019 campaign.

The 2019 Russian Grand Prix is firmly in the balance and that bodes for an unpredictable and exciting weekend. Qualifying is going to be central to the outcome of Sunday’s race and we could see one of the Ferrari drivers secure pole position. At the time of writing, Leclerc is the 13/8 favourite with Betfred to start from first place on the grid and the writing could be on the wall for his rivals if he gets an early lead.

Max Verstappen blows hot and cold but 10/3 for the Red Bull Racing driver to finish on the podium on Sunday is a huge price. Ladbrokes customers should snap that price up ahead of this weekend’s race – Verstappen is one of the best in the business and his aggressive style should suit the Sochi circuit down to the ground. The Russian Grand Prix hasn’t necessarily been his favourite track in recent years but that could all change this time around.

On paper, this looks like it could be a battle between Ferrari and Mercedes. Should Ferrari secure a 1-2 for the second week in a row, the Constructors’ Championship will be a genuine objective with five Grand Prix races to go. Neutrals should hope for a victory for Ferrari this weekend in order to keep that particular title race relevant – a Leclerc success will also help to hype up any chance of a Hamilton collapse.

Vettel’s success came as something of a shock last week – we tipped the German at 1/2 to finish in the top six. However, he should be right in the mix to claim top spot on the podium this weekend. Predicting a winner from the Ferrari and Mercedes quartet is not easy – the obvious pick is Hamilton but Leclerc is arguably the most dangerous driver in Formula One right now and he could just about edge it.

RACE WINNER: Either Mercedes driver (21/20 with SportingBet)

POLE POSITION: Charles Leclerc (13/8 with Betfred)

About Russian GP

History

You can trace the origins of the Russian Grand Prix all the way back to the early 1910s but it became a regular fixture on the Formula One calendar in 2014. Taking that into account, it is one of the newer races in the sport and punters only have five years of results to mull over when placing bets on the 2019 Russian Grand Prix.

You could be forgiven for assuming the Russian event takes place in Moscow – the original race did but the modern version is held at the Sochi Autodrom. As is the case with most of the modern Grand Prix venues, this is a street circuit and it suits the rally-style drivers down to the ground. Make of that what you will ahead of this year’s race…

An estimated 150,000 fans flocked to Sochi over the Russian Grand Prix weekend last year and that is impressive given how tough it can be logistically to get to the venue. Organisers are expecting similar figures in 2019 and it has all the makings of a memorable Grand Prix weekend. With so much on the line, missing Sunday’s big race is a no-go.

Winners

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

As with most Grand Prix events nowadays, Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in the brief history of this race. The Mercedes man has struggled in recent weeks but he will be hoping that a return to Russia can spark life back into his World Championship fight. He has won three times at Sochi and a fourth beckons if everything goes to plan.

Here’s an incredible statistic regarding the Russian Grand Prix: Mercedes have won all five races since the race joined the Formula One circuit. As previously mentioned, Hamilton has three triumphs while Nico Rosberg (2016) and Valtteri Bottas (2017) have also celebrated at the top of the Sochi podium. Can they make it six in a row? We’ll have to wait and see…

Mercedes gave Bottas team orders to let Hamilton pass in 2018 and that incident sparked controversy across Formula One. Neutrals will be hoping for another race packed full of excitement and entertainment in 2019 and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Mercedes finish the race with one of their drivers on top.

Fastest Lap

Bottas was unstoppable in qualifying at the 2018 Russian Grand Prix, recording the quickest lap time at Sochi in Formula One history. The Mercedes star secured pole position after his blistering 1:31:387 lap and Bottas will be hoping for more of the same this year. Starting on the front row of the grid can be key to success at this particular venue.

Who secured the fastest lap during the race? Valtteri Bottas again. If anything, his efforts in qualifying and during the 2018 Grand Prix will only enhance his frustration at receiving team orders to let Hamilton pass but these figures bode well for Bottas’ chances in 2019. 1:35:861 is a very quick ‘race’ lap time and Bottas may relish returning to Russia after a tough year.

Interesting Facts

russian grand prix circuit

Russian Grand Prix Circuit

As previously mentioned, Mercedes have won all five Russian Grand Prix races since 2014 but they haven’t secured pole position for all of those wins. To this date, Ferrari are the only team other than Mercedes to take pole at Sochi – with Sebastian Vettel qualifying on top spot in 2017.

There has been a Russian driver racing in every edition of the race so far. Daniil Kvyat took part in all four races between 2014 and 2017 while Sergey Sirotkin raced for Williams at Sochi in 2018. Kvyat’s return to the sport has ensured that there will once again be a home driver representing Russia in 2019.

Just miss out on first place in qualifying? Don’t sweat. Drivers starting from second on the grid in the Russian Grand Prix have never failed to score points in the race – this is also the case for drivers starting from position four.

Last but not least, Sochi is one of only eight cities to host an Olympic Games and a Formula One Grand Prix. The seven other cities are: Melbourne, Montreal, Barcelona, Mexico City, Berlin, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro.

The Future

When the Russian Grand Prix was formed in 2014, organisers signed a seven-year deal to keep the event on the Formula One calendar. With two years remaining on that contract, there is no immediate rush to push for an extension and F1 bosses will be keeping a close eye on this weekend’s proceedings and whether it should remain in the sport longer term.

For most Formula One fans, the Russian Grand Prix marks the start of the end of the season. It is a key race in the World Championship battle – highlighted of course by Mercedes’ team orders in 2018. With points now crucial at this stage of the campaign, drivers are not only fighting for the title but for their driving jobs next year.