The fourth race of the young Formula One season rises on Sunday (14:00 clock at RTL) in the Olympia town of Sochi. The sun shines over the Black Sea, everything is set for the next battle exchange at the Grand Prix of Russia.
Does Mercedes-Pilot Lewis Hamilton return in a duel with Ferrari-Star Sebastian Vettel? Or will the German win his third victory this year?
Who is the focus?
Only the two Alphabets. Formula 1 has long had to wait for such a duel, the comparison between two major races has been lacking in recent years. The main attraction, however, are the two main actors: Two multi-world champions fight at eye level, and Vettel and Hamilton are probably the strongest characters of the royal class at the moment. By the way, fans are still waiting for a real duel on the track: So far all three races have been decided at the command stand.
Who is the favorite?
Finally, this question is difficult to answer again. Vettel and Ferrari can also calculate something in Sochi, the SF70-H is an all-purpose weapon and has been fast everywhere so far. Mercedes, on the other hand, struggled with tyre management at high temperatures and has stumbled twice over this problem. At least the asphalt should be warm again on Sunday, However, the track could still cover up the current weakness: The course around the Olympic sites is considered to b e particularly mature and is Mercedes territory: Since the premiere 2014, the silver arrows in Sochi have always won.
What role does the team killer play?
Valtteri Bottas last has in Bahrain indicates that he can not only keep up: the Finnish took the pole position for the first time in his third race for Mercedes. In the race, however, it was also extremely unfortunate because of technical problems, Mercedes eventually had to sacrifice the new access in favor of Hamilton”, the Englishman was persuaded. Bottas now has to deliver, he doesn’t want to go straight to the second limb. If there is a private duel between Vettel and Hamilton, the Mercedes command post will probably have to intervene even more frequently during the season. The same applies, of course, to Vettel’s previously subordinate Ferrari teammate Kimi Rueckkunen.
How important is the start?
In Sochi the first moments are tricky. The start of the race can decide by itself, but Russia offers a special feature: for about a kilometer the riders stand on the gas after the extinction of the red lights, the first real curve offers the best overtaking possibilities out of the wind shadow of the front man. Thus a second ranking in qualifying might not be a bad starting position at all.
What are the other Germans doing?
Pascal Wehrlein is actually still warm, but already shows considerable form. Two races the Clean Pilot missed due to the consequences of his complicated back injury, then in Bahrain he contested his first Grand Prix for the Swiss and almost missed the points. Wehrlein’s eleventh place in the desert was the best season placement for the backbench team, in Sochi he wants to follow.
Nico Hullkenberg got his first points for Renault in Bahrain as a ninth, but was disappointed by the car. After the surprising seventh place in qualifying, “we had no chance in the race,” Emmericher said. The road to the hoped-for successes is still long and steep for Renault.