Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has secured his first ever race win in Formula One at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Sebastian Vettel finished a very close second. Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium for Ferrari.
So Russia has certainly not been a strong race for Ferrari since it sprung onto the calendar in 2014. There does seem to be an emphasis on outright power here - see Williams relative competitiveness every year in Russia inc. Bottas nearly snatching pole in 2014 - so I'm certainly expecting Mercedes to have a clear edge. I think Bahrain showed they still have a markedly more powerful PU than Ferrari and not just in quali - you could see that S1 was Hamilton's best sector relative to Vettel during the second stint, even when Vettel's SS tyres were on the wane.
However, one ray of hope for a close battle is tyre selection - thank God Pirelli have finally seen sense and brought the ultra soft; to my mind this is the track more than any other on the calendar that always needed it. Couldn't believe they didn't bring it last year.
But, whilst compounds overall are harder this year, I think having more grip from the tyre could serve to make the track less power dependant; the problem, imo, in Russia in recent years has been lack of grip and hence lack of traction. Cars with the best PU have found it easier to put the power down in these circumstances, and hopefully a softer tyre should redress the balance, since the track itself should actually pay back a good aero platform.
That's my hope anyway. My expectation is a Mercedes front row but, given he's always been pretty good here and tyre wear shouldn't be a big issue, I can see Bottas potentially snatching another pole and Hamilton having problems getting past (even if quicker in the race).
Yes and it would be very good if Mercedes Power Plus Team can gift Sebastian another Victory. It will restore the balance. The score going into Russia should have been 3 nil but unfortunately Ferrari decided to gift China back.
"Science at its best is an open-minded method of inquiry, not a belief system." - Rupert Sheldrake
Easy merc 1-2. Outright power will prove too much to handle by ferrari, who are actually quite far off, be it race or quali trim,
After winning 2 of of the 3 races so far this year Ferrari are far off.
I hope Ferrari are far off for the rest of the season.
I will add this , Most fans of Mercedes are living in the past AKA 2014 to 2016 when Mercedes would just get pole and cruise away for the win. Newsflash!! this is not 2016 any more. Mercedes are no longer dominant at least not to Ferrari.
Given that this is such a power heavy track(I have my doubts), by how much will pole improve at this track? My gut feeling says the margin of improvement over last year will be lower than we've seen so far. Easy one stopper, usually mild conditions, although rain is a possibility, will give a more detailed forecast in a few days.
There is one high speed turn and it's easy flat, even with previous generation cars. The rest of the turns are short medium speed turns that don't put much energy in the tires save for braking and traction.
The people that badmouth the layout simply suck at it, but it's a very difficult circuit to nail perfectly, you always feel like you could have gone faster. Power is important no doubt, but braking stability, a good front end that can pitch into the apex and good traction out of corners is equally if not more important. Alonso was best of the rest here last year, the one thing the McLaren had was braking stability, and a pointy front end.
I don't see pole being much faster than high 1:34.
Easy one stopper, usually mild conditions, although rain is a possibility, will give a more detailed forecast in a few days.
Well, given how the previous 2 GPs went, I doubt if this is going to be a one stopper. Now that finally Pirelli has broght ultra soft to Sochi (for the first time), it definitely won't be a one stopper. Even if Ferrari and Merc would want to have one stopper, RB would be aggressive with 2 stopper with ultra softs and would put pressure, just the way they did in China.