A historic fortress for Mercedes, the circuito de Sochi, will be the stage, this weekend, of the Russian Grand Prix, which is shaping up to be a new battle to win the crown of the Formula 1 to which the British aspire Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), and the Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull).
To the fifteenth stage of the calendar, the seven-time world champion arrives five points behind with respect to ‘Mad’ Max in a pulse for the title that will have, initially, another seven appointments ahead.
In Russia, it will be the most difficult still for those who are at the top of the drivers’ classification: a track where only Mercedes has won since it was included in the premier class motorsport calendar in 2014 and, in addition, weighed down by the three positions that he will lose on the starting grid due to the penalty resulting from the accident with Hamilton at Monza.
In the circuit of Italian Grand Prix, two weeks ago, there was a dispute at high revolutions between the two who play the world, a fierce fight that ended with both out of the race on the twenty-sixth lap of the mythical Italian track, where at the start they had already offered the first installment of this tense series that the season has become.
The clash between Hamilton, who has resisted the 100th victory in Formula 1 since July, and Verstappen in Italy could end in tragedy, but the halo, the protection system of the cockpit, prevented the Red-Bull from being able to crush Stevenage’s.
The Dutchman faces the appointment of Russia with the penalty of three positions on the starting gridAlthough the long straights of Sochi and the pair of DRS zones can help you.
Beyond the face-to-face between the champion and the contender, Monza elevated the Australian Daniel Ricciardo in an afternoon of glory for McLaren, who had not won since Brazil 2012 and signed the double with the British Lando Norris in the second position. Valteri Bottas accompanied them on the podium in the season of his farewell to Mercedes.
The Finn has done exceptionally well at the Sochi circuit, where he won twice and was able to do it a third time (he left it on a tray for his teammate), a track that Mercedes has absolutely dominated, which yielded two poles to Ferrari but never let the victory escape there in a race.
Precisely, a Ferrari, that of Charles Leclerc, will come out last this time, since the Italian team announced that the Monegasque will debut a power unit with the aim of gaining experience for the 2022 car project.
The evolution of the engine will be tested first by him and, later, by his teammate, Carlos Sainz, who, after his sixth place at Monza, will have the opportunity to overtake Leclerc in the championship standings, who are just 6.5 points ahead of him.
The two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, eighth in Italy, he returns to a stage in which he competed five times and that left him the thorn of not having been able to complete a good weekend, although he has done better in the race than in qualifying.
Alonso has scored in ten races on his return to the premier class of the Formula 1, the same ones in which the Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez has added, who is fifth in the classification with 118 points, behind his teammate, the two Mercedes and Lando Norris’ McLaren.
The cars will make 53 laps (a total of 309,745 km.) Of the 5,848-meter track on the shores of the Black Sea, in the Sochi spa Olympic Park, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Hamilton has the fastest lap since 2019 (1: 35.761) and Pirelli has provided the softest tires for this Grand Prix: The C3 (hard), the C4 (medium) and the C5 (soft), the same allocation as in 2020, with two hard, three medium and eight soft per rider.
The most frequent strategy in the Russian Grand Prix has been to go to a stop and last year the one that gave the victory went through a change from medium to hard on a circuit that has a very technical last sector.
The first free practice sessions will be held this Friday at 10:30 a.m. (CET), the seconds will begin at 2:00 p.m., the third session will be on Saturday at 11:00 a.m., the classification will be played at 2:00 p.m. and also at that time, but on Sunday, it will be the turn of the long-awaited race in this exciting season finale.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.