Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix 2021 Preview

F1 Formula One

Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix 2021 Preview

The Sport of F1 travels to Sochi, in Russia for the 15th round of the FIA World Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leading the driver’s standings by five points ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton following their dramatic crash at Monza in the Italian GP, that consequently retired both cars and lead to the Dutch driver getting a three-place grid drop for the upcoming Grand Prix.

Over the course of the Italian GP, Verstappen actually gained two points on Hamilton due to his second-place finish in the sprint qualifying race which saw Hamilton drop to fifth place behind both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris who went on to earn McLaren’s first one-two finish in 11 years in the race itself on the Sunday, with Valtteri Bottas recovering from last on the starting grid to third-place due to changing components late enough to allow the Finn to start and win the sprint race from pole position.

The last time F1 came to Russia last year, the most common podium in the history of the sport happened once again, although it was Bottas who won the race, with Verstappen second and Hamilton having to fight back for third-place following 10 seconds worth of time penalties for doing practice starts outside of the designated area before the race. The Brit served his time penalties when coming in for his first pitstop.

At this race last year, Kimi Raikkonen also tied with Rubens Barichello for the most F1 race starts with 322 to his name, the Finn is expected to return to Alfa Romeo’s driver line-up this weekend having been replaced by Robert Kubica following a virus.

F1 Russian GP RABs

skybet betting tip

BOTTAS, HAMILTON & PEREZ ALL TOP 6 FINISH @ 11/8

Qualifying Prediction

As mentioned above, Verstappen will have a three-place grid drop due to his collision with Hamilton at Monza, which will likely open up the pathway for Mercedes to lockout the first row of the grid, having had excellent results at Russia in the past. The German constructor have won every race here since the track was introduced to the calendar in 2014, with Hamilton winning four, whilst Bottas won here last year and Nico Rosberg was the winner back in 2016.

These statistics are relatively bleak for Red Bull’s chances of finishing on pole position which solely relies on Sergio Perez, who will need to vastly improve his performances from prior races for the Bulls at the Russian GP if he is to help his team out. The Mexican has only finished in the top four, five times this season, with one as a race winner at Azerbaijan and another on the podium in third-place at France, but has managed a top-four finish since the Styrian GP.

This could present itself with a good opportunity for one of the McLaren’s to push for third-place on the grid, having shown their pace once again at Monza, often looking quicker than both of the Red Bulls in terms of straight-line speed. Ricciardo and Norris will be coming into the race weekend full of confidence knowing that another big result would significantly move their team further ahead of Ferrari in the battle for third place in the Constructor’s Championship.

Prediction: Pole Position: Hamilton. 2. Bottas. 3. Perez.

F1 Russian GP RABs

skybet betting tip

HAMILTON TO WIN, SAINZ TOP 6 FINISH, GASLY & RICCIARDO POINTS @ 9/2

Race Prediction: Red Bull vs Mercedes

Last season, Verstappen showed in a much inferior Red Bull car that they weren’t too far away from Mercedes’ pace, finishing 7.7 seconds behind Bottas, so, it could be a matter of where the Dutchman qualifies and how quickly can he clear the cars in front of him before hunting down the Mercedes.

Typically, it is often better to start this race in third-place which might not make much logical sense, however, we have seen in the past two races here, that the slipstream going around the high-paced turn one, down the straight towards turn two is very powerful, as both Sebastien Vettel and Bottas have overtaken their teammates for the lead of the race in 2019 and 2020, although the latter failed to make his move stick by going too wide into turn two, compromising his exit.

We expect the Mercedes to have full control of this race early on and having won at this track every time the sport has raced here since 2014, they will have more than enough experience as to how to manage it. Christian Horner will be hoping that Perez can be a nuisance to Toto Wolff’s team’s strategy, although the Mexican will have to significantly step up his game if he is to be of any use this weekend in Verstappen’s bid to claim his first World Driver’s Championship this season.

Prediction: 1. Hamilton. 2. Bottas. 3. Verstappen.

F1 Russian GP RABs

skybet betting tip

VERSTAPPEN TO WIN, PEREZ PODIUM & RUSSELL POINTS @ 50/1

Other Driver to Lookout for

As mentioned above, both of the McLaren’s will be there or thereabouts to challenge for third in qualifying which could potentially compromise some of the Red Bull’s early performance in the race. Ricciardo’s win at Monza was his first victory since Monaco in 2018 when he was driving as a teammate to Verstappen at Red Bull. The Australian’s ability is unquestionable despite his struggles at McLaren early on this season and will be looking to put together two strong races in a row.

Norris will also be hoping to challenge for the podium in Russia having managed four so far this season following his second-place finish last time out at Monza, which to date is his best single race result in F1.

LeClerc and Carlos Sainz will hope to be competitive in the Ferrari’s once again having managed fourth and sixth place finishes at Monza last time out which brought them in a good points haul, however, their results may have been overshadowed by McLaren’s in their battle with the British constructor for third place.

Both of the Alpine’s managed to make it into the points at Monza and will be hoping for similar performances at Russia, having seen Fernando Alonso finish in eighth, whilst Esteban Ocon ended up in tenth, the Frenchman could take inspiration from his excellent drive here last season whilst at Renault that saw him take seventh place.

George Russell managed to sneak into the points for the third time in four races which is perhaps something that went under the radar at Monza, this means that he has now got 15th place in the standings and sits just three points behind Yuki Tsunoda and nine adrift of Lance Stroll who earned himself a good points haul in Italy via a seventh-place finish.

Two drivers that will certainly want to improve on their results at Russia are Vettel and Gasly, as the four-time world champion could only manage 12th having been pushed wide by his teammate Stroll early on in the race, costing him a lot of places, whilst Gasly who is ninth in the driver’s standings crashed out in Saturday’s sprint qualifying race and failed to even make it to the grid in the formation lap due to technical issues.

F1 Russian GP RABs

skybet betting tip

HAMILTON TO WIN, VERSTAPPEN PODIUM, NORRIS TOP 6, ALONSO, RICCIARDO BOTH POINTS @ 9/1

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