Russian Grand Prix Preview | Can Ferrari win on Mercedes territory?

Preview the 2017 Russian Grand Prix.

Since the turn of the Hybrid era and the introduction of the Russian Grand Prix, just one team has been successful on the streets of Sochi. Mercedes. The team that has claimed the past three drivers and constructors’ titles, but faces its toughest test yet from outside their own factory in Ferrari. But can the Scuderia scupper the Silver Arrows in Sochi?

Since the start of the year, Ferrari’s challenge has certainly been up there with their best efforts in years. Taking two of the opening three rounds through the hands of Vettel, as he and Hamilton joust for top honours.

Ensuring 2017 is not just another splurge onto the front row in Australia followed by a mediocre season for Ferrari. And after a poor showing from Hamilton in Bahrain last time out, Vettel took back the championship lead.

Vettel Bahrain race 2017 - Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel during his victorious Bahrain Grand Prix. Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari.

Now heading into Russia seven points up on the Briton, having previously seen Hamilton tie things up after his maiden 2017 win in China. A race where Red Bull found their feet and began to look competitive after their own mediocre start.

Red Bull, though, still look a step off the pace that Ferrari and Mercedes can lay down. Leaving them in a slot of their own on the third row of the grid. But if they can be as competitive as in China, Russia can present itself as a great place for points.

The win, meanwhile, looks like it is still out of Red Bull’s clutches. Leaving Vettel and Raikkonen to prevent a fourth successive Mercedes victory in the Black Sea resort that hosted the 2014 winter Olympics.

Sochi - McLaren (2)

The pit complex at the Sochi Autodrom for the Russian Grand Prix. Photo credit: McLaren.

In the three previous Russian Grand Prix, the Mercedes atop the podium has also gone on to win that year’s championship. With Rosberg not only breaking Hamilton’s title stronghold last year as he claimed the win.

So should Vettel win his third race of the year in Sochi, Hamilton’s best hope would be to leave the circuit just the 14-points off the lead.

Hopes for points will be a thin wish for McLaren as they continue with their uncompetitive season. A glimmer of hope will come, however, as Honda aims to bring with them a more reliable power unit amidst their struggles.

Ahead of McLaren lies the midfield battle, where Renault could continue to surprise ahead of Force India and Toro Rosso. Three teams who have added spice to the season thus far.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Bahrain Grand Prix - Race Day - Sakhir, Bahrain

Force India and Renault joust under the stars during the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix. Photo credit: Force India F1 Team.

For the fourth successive season, the Sochi Autodrom will remain unchanged. Meaning the street circuit around the winter Olympic park will again consist of 18 corners, split 12 right and six left.

One of those six left handers, though, is the long turn three. A key part of the track, as drivers battle to carry speed without churning through their rubber. While the long corner has also proven to be a chance for drivers to battle for position.

The 650-metre straight between the first and second turns is another key zone itself, with DRS aiding overtakes. As for the DRS zone between the tenth and thirteenth turns, overtakes are not as easy to complete but are not impossible.

The majority of the middle and final sectors are difficult to overtake in, however the heavy braking zones for the sharp corners can open the door for a move.

Sochi Autodrom GP Circuit track layout - copyright: Formula1.Com

The Sochi Autodrom Grand Prix circuit layout. Photo credit: Formula1.com.

The 2017 Russian Grand Prix will be the second race of the year to be live on both Sky Sports F1 and Channel 4 in the UK. Giving non-Sky subscripted customers a chance to watch Hamilton and Vettel fight again.

Sky Sports F1
26/04 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Preview
27/04 – 13:00 – Driver Press Conference
27/04 – 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
28/04 – 08:45 – Practice 1
28/04 – 12:45 – Practice 2
28/04 – 15:00 – Team Press Conference
28/04 – 15:30 – The F1 Show
29/04 – 09:45 – Practice 3
29/04 – 12:00 – Qualifying
30/04 – 11:30 – Russian Grand Prix race
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live
03/05 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Review

Channel 4 F1
28/04 – 08:55 – Practice 1
28/04 – 12:55– Practice 2
29/04 – 09:55 – Practice 3
29/04 – 11:25 – F1 Meets… Daniel Ricciardo
29/04 – 11:55 – Qualifying
30/04 – 12:00 – Race
=> 12:00 – Build-Up
=> 12:35 – Race
=> 15:10 – Reaction

BBC Radio F1
27/04 – 21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
28/04 – 08:55 – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/04 – 09:55 – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
29/04 – 12:55 – Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
30/04 – 13:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)