By News Team
24th September 2021
After a one-week break in the calendar, F1 is back this weekend for the Russian Grand Prix. This will be the 1,050th Grand Prix in the history of the sport and the eighth Russian Grand Prix to be held as part of the World Championship.
Mercedes finds themselves behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship, but the Brackley-based outfit has been successful at this track. Since the Russian Grand Prix was first held as a World Championship race in 2014, Mercedes have won every single renewal to date, with the current driver pairing winning six of those between them.
We take a look at whether Red Bull can stop Mercedes’ Russian Grand Prix dominance, and whether there will be any surprises waiting in the wings.
Hamilton looking to continue dominance
It’s no surprise to hear that Lewis Hamilton, who is still one win away from his 100th Grand Prix win, is the most successful driver at the Russian Grand Prix, having won four of the seven races since 2014. His team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was recently confirmed to be driving for Alfa Romeo next season, has won twice including last year’s renewal, while Nico Rosberg, who famously beat Hamilton to the title and then retired the next day, won back in 2016.
It’s because of this dominance that the market favours the two Mercedes drivers, with Hamilton being the strong favourite at 4/7, and Bottas at 4/1. Judging by their previous form around the circuit in Sochi, Mercedes will be hard to beat this weekend and will be looking to bolster their title bid with a big haul of points.
A tough weekend for Red Bull?
As mentioned above, Red Bull haven’t been successful in Russia, with Mercedes dominating around the circuit. Max Verstappen has been phenomenal for most of the season but was left seething once more when he and Hamilton came together again at Monza. He still leads the championship by five points, but that could take a hit if Mercedes prove too dominant.
Recent Russian Grand Prix have always been about qualifying, and whether it’s a good thing to be on pole. The statistics don’t lie, and the last pole-sitter to win the Russian Grand Prix was Nico Rosberg back in 2016. The rest of the wins have either come from second or third place. No driver outside the top three has won the race with the second and fourth place grid positions having a 100% scoring record.
The pace of the Red Bull compared to the Mercedes is yet to be seen, but the markets suggest that Verstappen and Sergio Perez will be playing catch-up. The championship leader is 6/1 to win the race, while his team-mate Perez is 11/4 to finish on the podium.
Ones to watch
The Italian Grand Prix at Monza was special, with McLaren picking up their first 1-2 since 2010. We probably won’t see these sorts of dramatics this weekend, but who’s to say they won’t be fighting for a podium position? Lando Norris has been hugely impressive this year and Daniel Ricciardo has finally found his groove. Both have been seriously quick recently in their bid to secure third in the Constructors’ Championship, and a podium for either man would be huge. Norris is currently 9/4 to pick up more silverware, while his team-mate is 5/1.
Further down the field, Aston Martin have been making subtle improvements in their performance. Sebastian Vettel has been on the podium twice (before being disqualified from his second) and Lance Stroll has began to find a bit of consistency. The team will still be disappointed with their results considering they were race winners last year, managed one pole position and were consistently battling for podiums. Hopefully, they will find their form again next season but, for now, the focus is getting as many points as they can. Four-time world champion Vettel is Evens to finish within the points this weekend, while Stroll is 5/4. If they can improve their qualifying, there is no reason for them not to be in the mix for some points.