After an incident-packed race in China two weeks ago, the Formula 1 teams have arrived in Russia for the fourth race of the season.
Nico Rosberg notched up his sixth consecutive race win in Shanghai, putting him 36 points ahead of his team-mate, Lewis Hamilton. Can the German driver go on to beat Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine back-to-back wins, or will one of his rivals stop him in his tracks in Sochi?
Can Hamilton Claim His First Win of 2016?
Hamilton’s 2016 season has gone from bad to worse. Forced to start from the back of the Chinese Grand Prix’s grid after mechanical problems meant he was unable to set a qualifying time, his chances of gaining a podium position were destroyed at the first corner, when Felipe Nasr’s Sauber careered into his Mercedes. As a result, the British driver only managed to creep back up to seventh.
It’s still early in the season though, so he could still catch Rosberg and win the 2016 driver’s championship if his luck changes soon. He’s already added both of the Russian Grand Prix winner’s trophies that have been on offer at Sochi to his motor sports awards cabinet, so it’s a circuit that suits his driving style well.
Will the Prancing Horses Gallop?
China was another calamitous outing for Ferrari, despite the fact that Sebastian Vettel finished in second. Both drivers looked promising in qualifying, with Kimi Räikkönen securing third position on the grid and Vettel a place behind him.
On the first corner, however, Vettel collided with his team mate while trying to avoid the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat, an incident that was the catalyst for Hamilton’s crash. The German former world champion was vocal about his opinion that the blame lay with the Russian driver when the two crossed paths before the podium presentation, but that didn’t change the fact that it reduced both Ferrari drivers’ chances of winning the race.
Like Hamilton, Räikkönen and Vettel simply haven’t had Lady Luck on their side for the first few races of 2016. However, the car is still competitive and, if things run smoothly for the drivers in Sochi, either one could take advantage of any issues that arise for Rosberg.
Will the Bulls be On the Charge?
Red Bull have made a better start to the season than many fans expected, and Kvyat picked up the team’s first podium position of the year in China when he crossed the line in third place. Daniel Ricciardo made a superb start to the race and looked set to finish in the final three before a tyre blow-out forced him into an unscheduled pit stop. Despite his best efforts, he could only move himself back up to fourth – the third time in three races that he’s missed out on the podium celebrations by a place.
If Nico’s still on form in Russia, it’s unlikely that either Red Bull driver will have the speed needed to compete with him. However, they could manage to get close enough to take advantage of any mistakes he makes.
The odds of a championship win are firmly in Rosberg’s favour now – every driver in the sport’s history who has won the first three races of a season has gone on to claim the title of world champion that year. However, his winning streak could end at any moment and Sochi could be the track at which it does.
Are you enjoying the 2016 Formula 1 season? Who do you think will win the Russian Grand Prix? Tell us what you think.