Formula One Sochi GP PreviewJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
After a long build-up Formula One heads to Russia for the first time since 1914 this weekend at the new Sochi Autodrom, located at the former Winter Olympics venue.
The excitement for the race has been overshadowed by Jules Bianchi’s serious crash last weekend at Suzuka but the drivers are determined to remain focused. The Frenchman is currently said to be in a critical condition and his team, Marussia, have decided to only run one car at Sochi in his honour.
Bernie Ecclestone commented on the new Sochi track, “A lot has changed since the last time I was here. I am seeing some fantastic results. This will be one of the most sensational Grand Prix races. No one has ever built a racing track like the one in Sochi. I just can’t wait.”
Former World Champion Sebastian Vettel was the only driver to approach practice this weekend with any experience on the track, having completed a few demonstration laps in a regular car in August. “It’s a big honour to be the first Formula One driver to test the track,” he said.
“Having driven a couple of laps of this awesome circuit, I can already see that it will be interesting to drive an F1 car here. The infrastructure I’ve seen has really impressed me as well.”
As they get up to speed with the new track, most drivers have been pleasantly surprised. “It didn’t look very sexy from the outside but it actually seems to be really good fun,” said Romain Grosjean of Lotus.
The home crowd will no doubt be focusing their attention on Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat as the only Russian on the starting grid. “I’m very excited to race in Russia when I will finally get to perform in front of my home crowd, so that makes it a very important weekend,” said the 20-year-old.
“I’m sure feeling all that extra support will be a big boost when I’m on track. It’s definitely a historic moment and I hope everyone will enjoy the Grand Prix.”
Nico Rosberg led his teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton in first practice to set the fastest time on the brand new 3.6 mile circuit.
Button looked competitive throughout, setting a fastest time in the first 30 minutes. He ended the session falling just 0.196 seconds behind Rosberg’s pace and 0.213 ahead of Alonso.
After second practice Hamilton was leading the pack with a fastest lap of 1:39.630 and looked strong going in to qualifying on Saturday.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will start as favourites at Sochi with Hamilton hoping to win a fourth consecutive Grand Prix and extend his 10 point lead in the drivers’ championship.
Rosberg has admitted that Hamilton has coped better with the conditions in recent races, particularly the treacherous conditions at Suzuka last weekend, but commented “I believe and know that if I do a good job here, I’ll win on Sunday. I’m not in the past. I’m here.”
Formula One Betting
Here are the betting odds for the favourites to win the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix at Sochi:
(Provided by Sky Bet)
Lewis Hamilton – 4/6 – £10 bet returns £16.67
Nico Rosberg – 2/1 – £10 bet returns £30
Daniel Ricciardo – 12/1 – £10 bet returns £130
Sebastian Vettel – 14/1 – £10 bet returns £140
Valtteri Bottas – 20/1 – £10 bet returns £210
Fernando Alonso – 28/1 – £10 bet returns £290
Felipe Massa – 33/1 – £10 bet returns £340
Jenson Button – 50/1 – £10 bet returns £510