Russian GP Preview - Can Mercedes dominance continue?

Since Last Time 

All eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes coming into this race weekend for a number of reasons. The Brit stands on the edge of beating Michael Schumacher's record for number of race wins, further cementing him to a claim of 'Best driver ever', up there with the aforementioned Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

Another reason why all eyes will be on Mercedes will be because Netflix and the 'Drive to Survive' team will be following them for the weekend. The popular F1 focused series will be entering its third seasons come the start of 2021, with the German GP in 2019 being the last time the cameras took to the world champions garage.

Another source of news in the past week was the driver market, especially surrounding American team Haas. Both drivers in Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have their contracts expire at the end of the 2020 season, leading to a potential double change in driver for the struggling Americans.

There are plenty of drivers being lined up for the seat, both existing and non F1 based drivers. Due to the ties with Ferrari, there have been links to one of the Academy drivers in F2, such as Callum Ilott or Mick Schumacher, however with options like Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg available, it could be a tough 'silly season' for Gene Haas and Gunther Steiner.

Another change in the paddock is set to be the return of ex-Ferrari boss and current Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali. Domenicali will be taking over the role of Chase Carey, the CEO and Principal of Formula One. It has been reported that even though Domenicali has not signed the contracted, the news has already been communicated to the team bosses.

Track Layout 

The track has a love hate relationship with the fans of the sport, however one man who always seems to do well in Sochi is Valtteri Bottas. The Finn typically gets to grips quickly with the track and is always there or there abouts. Mercedes have won every race here since the race returned to the calendar in 2014, and 2020 should make no difference to this pattern.

The track contains high speed areas, such as the pit straight going into turn one, and the second DRS section, where Carlos Sainz had a particularly big incident in Free Practice 2015. This is countered by sections of the track such as sector two, which has tight flowing corners.

It should be another good year for Mercedes in Russia, especially without the pressure Ferrari would usually put on during the weekend. The same kind of pressure that resulted in Charles Leclerc claiming pole position last year.

Session Timings 

All sessions will be available live through Sky Sports F1, with highlights posted on Channel 4 and the dedicated F1 YouTube channel.

Friday 25th September 

FP1 - 9:00am - 10:30am 

FP2 - 13:00pm - 14:30pm

Saturday 26th September 

FP3 - 10:00am - 11:00am

Qualifying - 13:00pm - 14:00pm

Sunday 27th September 

Race - 12:10 pm