2019 Formula One Russian Grand Prix preview

This weekend sees the sixth running of the Russian Grand Prix as a round of the Formula One World Championship. The race, the 16th of the 2019 season, is held at the Sochi Autodrom whose track winds its way around the Olympic village built for the winter games of 2014, held in this Black Sea resort.

Designed by German architect Herman Tilke, Sochi’s track is a street circuit with some permanent sections, and at 3.63 miles in length it is one of the longest on the calendar. The layout is characterized by long straights and sweeping hairpins, but there are also some slow sections that feature 90-degree corners.

Meanwhile the surface is known for being very smooth and slippery as the circuit was only completed in 2014, however the asphalt has matured since then though not quite as much as expected due to the extremes of temperatures between the summer and winter. As a result, tire wear and degradation is still relatively low and thus Pirelli has nominated its medium compounds: the C2, C3 and C4.

Ferrari at the 2019 Formula One Russian Grand Prix

Ferrari at the 2019 Formula One Russian Grand Prix

Weather conditions can be quite variable and a notable chance of rain is currently forecast.

After some initial practice on Friday, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were first and third fastest, respectively, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen splitting them. Behind them were Mercedes-AMG drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas who will be out to maintain the German team’s unblemished winning streak at the Russian race.

Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Hamilton leads the 2019 Drivers’ Championship with 296 points. Bottas is second with 231 points and Leclerc and Verstappen are tied for third with 200 points each. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 527 points versus the 394 of Ferrari and 289 of Red Bull. Last year’s winner in Russia was Bottas driving for Mercedes.

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