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Preview GP Russia 2020: Seventh coup by Mercedes?

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Preview GP Russia
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D he Formula 1 fans really couldn't talk about too recently to complain about little spectacle. In Monza, Pierre Gasly won sensationally after a chaotic race. In Mugello, fans of spectacular crashes got their money's worth. After several collisions, however, in the end the two Mercedes drivers celebrated again with the biggest trophies on the podium.

Based on the experience of the first nine races of the season, it is not to be expected that there will be any substantial change in the balance of power in Russia . Only the route layout could cause some shifts. Instead of many fast corners like in Mugello, the course in the Olympic Park in Sochi is all about slow, right-angled corners.

The big question is whether Ferrari can make up some ground in midfield. The Italians have announced at least a small upgrade package for the Russia adventure. Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc shouldn't hope for crazy weather conditions. The current forecast assumes a dry race weekend with hot temperatures of up to 28 ° C.

Not only the drivers will work up a sweat in Sochi. For the first time this year, larger numbers of spectators are permitted in the stands. Up to 30,000 fans should be able to cheer for the drivers in the first race outside the European continent.

Course: Sochi Autodrom

At 5.853 kilometers, the course in the Olympic Park is the third longest after Spa and Silverstone in the calendar. The pilots pass various Olympic arenas in 12 right and 6 left turns, circle the square with the large torch and also pass the imposing Olympic Stadium, which was used as the venue for the World Cup games in summer 2018. Partly it goes on public roads, which is why the grip level leaves something to be desired, especially at the beginning of the weekend.

The pilots spin clockwise. The fact that the right side of the neck is still particularly stressed is due to the long omega curve (turn 3), which is driven through at the exit at almost 300 km /h. Here there are high centrifugal forces for more than six seconds. The first races in Sochi have shown that overtaking is not easy. The best chances to attack are at the end of the home straight before Turn 2. On the approach, top speeds of 343 km /h are achieved.

Pirelli
Pirelli is one of the mixes Level softer than in the previous season. Does that bring a little more strategy variants?

Fast facts about the GP Russia:

  • Track length: 5.858 km
  • Number of laps: 53
  • Race distance: 309.745 km
  • Lap record (race): 1.35.761 minutes (Lewis Hamilton, 2019)
  • Number of corners: 18 (12 right /6 left)
  • Top speed: 343 km /h
  • Distance from start to first braking point: 889.6 meters
  • Length of pit lane: 414.2 meters (loss of time: approx. 21s)
  • DRS zones: 2 (T1-2, T11-13)
  • Tire wear : low
  • Tire types: C3, C4, C5
  • Safety car probability: 60 percent (3/5)

Setup:

With downforce, like on all street circuits, the cars are at the upper limit. With the front wing in particular, the angle of attack must not be too small in order to alleviate the tendency to understeer in the many 90-degree bends. Although the asphalt is flat, the suspension, especially on the rear axle, shouldn't be quite as hard and deep, otherwise traction will suffer. Another important factor is the braking stability in the stop & go sections.

In contrast, the engineers do not have to pay much attention to tire wear. The slippery asphalt and the lack of fast corners ensure very little stress on the rubbers. Even with the relatively high temperatures predicted for race Sunday, all pilots should get by with a stop. It doesn't help that Pirelli has packed the combination of the three softest blends in the range (C3-C5).

Technology updates:

The season is in Sochi the second half - much later than usual due to the Corona break. In most technology offices, the development of the upcoming cars has long been on the agenda. There were no major upgrade announcements for Sochi. Only Ferrari wants to add a few more parts. 'They won't change anything in the big picture,' said team boss Mattia Binotto, dampening expectations.

It is interesting whether Racing Point can equip its two cars with the new parts that only Lance Stroll has enjoyed so far . In terms of pace, the debut of the expansion stage was inMugello very promising. However, Stroll destroyed his facelift package in a high-speed crash in the Arrabiata curve. It is still unclear whether the factory will be able to produce two completely new kits for Sochi. The logistical complication is the great distance to Sochi.

Favorites:

Anyone who bet against Mercedes in Russia could only lose so far. Formula 1 has been here six times. In the end, a Silver Arrows driver was at the top of the podium six times. The performances of the last races give little hope that something will change in the usual picture at the seventh edition of the Olympic Tour. However, Red Bull's real pace has been difficult to assess recently. Max Verstappen dropped out prematurely in both Monza and Mugello.

The fight in the chasing field promises more tension. Should Racing Point come with the upgrade package, we will see the pink racing cars as the first force in the midfield. In the duel Renault against McLaren, the form of the day and the external conditions were decisive. If we had to commit, we would put our money on Daniel Ricciardo.

We see Alpha Tauri and Ferrari at the far end of the chasing field. The fans of Sebastian Vettel can only hope that the new parts bring some stability to the rear. Most recently, the Heppenheimer was at war with the SF1000. Especially in medium-fast corners, Leclerc made his teammates look old.

This is how the race went last year - GP Russia 2019:

After victories in Belgium, Monza and Singapore, Ferrari traveled in the last Season as the clear favorite after Sochi. And at the beginning of the race, everything looked very promising. Vettel took the lead early on after a rocket launch and slipstream help from Leclerc. The plan actually stipulated that the pilots should switch positions again after a few laps. But Vettel overruled the team leadership.

At the first pit stop, the Ferrari strategists controlled the exchange of places from the pit wall. Leclerc was brought in on lap 22, Vettel only four laps later. With the fresher tires, the Monegasse made it past their team-mate. For Vettel, however, it was completely over a little later. The Heppenheimer rolled out on lap 28 with a hybrid damage.

The virtual safety car suddenly played the trump cards into the hands of Mercedes. Hamilton and Bottas completed their only tire change, saving time, during neutralization. So Hamilton steered his Silver Arrow back onto the track before Leclerc. Because Ferrari brought in the only remaining car in the second safety car phase after a crash by Russell, Bottas also slipped through.

In the gallery we show the scenes from the Russian GP once again Previous year.

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