The 2015 Russian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton close out the victory on his charge to the world championship. But this time, his teammate Nico Rosberg is on a roll with a 6-race win streak spanning two seasons, and now the German will be itching to hunt for his 7th win of the season in the Sochi Autodrom.
Although the Russian GP is primarily placed towards the far end of the calendar since its inception in 2014, this time it was bumped forward to the Russian national holiday slot.
Rosberg heads into the next round with a 36-point gap over Hamilton after a dominant win in Shanghai last time out. Meanwhile in the other Mercedes camp, Lewis’ reasonably good start to the season with two podiums was rudely interrupted as he was left floundering in 7th in China after a back-of-the-grid start.
A rock solid performance all but cemented Rosberg’s desire to win his maiden Formula One world championship, but Red Bull and Ferrari are hot on their tail. A fairly subdued Vettel will be hoping not to body slam his teammate or any other driver and the Red Bulls will be hoping for a strong result after a mixed day for Kvyat and Ricciardo in China with the former winning the Driver of the Day vote.
Russia 2015 Recap
Hamilton led not quite from the start and it would have been a Rosberg affair if a faulty throttle hadn’t put paid to that. So a gleeful Hamilton pounced at his teammates misfortune and sealed the victory.
Considering the fact that Sochi is a track where Hamilton has won twice, Rosberg will attempt to wrestle his teammates run of consecutive Russian GP wins and in the process extend his own winning streak to 4 races this season.
It has also come to our attention that Red Bull will debut the canopy concept during the practice session on Friday although it won’t be seen again until 2017. The driver reactions were fairly favorable especially Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who was a staunch critic of the Halo concept proposed by Mercedes.
Hulkenberg said that the Canopy looked better aesthetically and he would prefer the canopy over the Halo since it was inevitable that cockpit protection was coming whether he liked it or not, so he has to go with the flow and embrace it like his fellow drivers.
Coming back to the buildup to the race, the 3 main contenders for the championship are Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull with Rosberg wanting the extend his streak, Hamilton wanting to stop him, Ferrari aching to get close and Kvyat aiming to snatch a podium in front of his home crowd and Ricciardo getting in the mix.
As for the other teams, Williams, after a quick-fire start to their 2015 campaign, they seemed to have not found the sweet spot yet. Felipe Massa is somehow raking in the results and consistently finishing ahead of his younger teammate Valtteri Bottas, but they are now fighting with rookie team Haas F1 for the title of “Best Of The Rest”.
Speaking of Haas F1, Romain Grosjean enjoyed a brilliant run in the first 2 rounds as compared to Esteban Gutierrez, they finally managed a double finish albeit out of the points in a tough weekend in China, the Frenchman and the Mexican will be aiming to turn things around.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz have ben very evenly matched but their pace couldn’t quite yield the desired results from the perspective of the team. Force India is a different matter altogether, apart from the woes being faced by Vijay Mallya, the team really haven’t hit the mark yet and since last year, have seemed to be locked in a permanent battle with McLaren Honda.
Although Sergio Perez was consistently faster than Hulkenberg last year, the German seems to have pulled up his socks, with the team’s only points finish so far this season and no B-Spec car on the horizon to save them, the Indian joint have their work cut out for them.
McLaren haven’t brought out their big guns yet but it seems they are taking it one step at a time, having restructured it’s management a bit and rather embarrassingly their only point having come from the reserve driver, the two main drivers Button and Alonso need to work hard to keep developing the car and have the results to show it.
Renault, Sauber and Manor Racing are fighting their own battles with Renault having a less than ideal start and Sauber fighting 2 battles on track and off it (financial), Manor have been showing occasional flashes of brilliance especially from the end of Pascal Werhlein, but fizzle out towards the end.
Timings and streaming info
The Russian GP will start from tomorrow onwards at with Practice 1 kicking off at 10:00 am if you live in Russia, 8:00am if you live in the UK and 12:30 if you live in India.
Practice 2 starts at 2:00pm in Russia, 12:00pm in the UK and 4:30pm in India. Practice 3 is on Saturday at 12:00pm in Russia, 10:00am in the UK and 2:30pm in India. The all-important Qualifying takes place at 3:00pm in Russia, 1:00pm in the UK and 5:30pm in India. Raceday is on Sunday at 3:00pm in Russia, 1:00pm in UK and 5:30pm in India.
India will be broadcasting the race on Star Sports.
53 laps of non-stop action! What secrets does the Sochi Autodrome have for us? I cannot wait, can you? All we have to do is watch for those 5 red lights to go out, and in the words of Murray Walker “And Its GO! GO! GO!”