Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2019

Will Mercedes extend streak of wins or defeats? Six Russian GP talking points

2019 Russian Grand Prix

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Mercedes could set their longest losing streak of the V6 hybrid era – but Sochi has been one of their strongest tracks. Here are the Russian Grand Prix talking points.

Will Mercedes extend their losing streak…

Mercedes have lost the last three grands prix. This has only happened once before under the current engine regulations: at the beginning of last season, when Ferrari won the opening two rounds and Red Bull took the third.

Ferrari’s wins at Spa and Monza were not unexpected but Singapore was a real surprise. many will have left Monza wondering whether that was Ferrari’s last real chance of winning a race this season. But if the SF-90 can win on tracks as diverse as the ‘temple of speed’ and Marina Bay, perhaps there are quite a few more tracks it can succeed on as well.

…or their winning streak?

Sochi is a very happy hunting ground for the three-pointed Spa. Mercedes have been undefeated at this circuit since it joined the calendar in 2014, coincidentally the same year the V6 hybrid turbo power units were introduced.

As well as being a strong track for the team, it’s tended to be one of Valtteri Bottas’s better venues as well. He scored his first victory at this track in 2017, and would have won last year had Mercedes team ordered not intervened. He badly needs to do better this time if he’s to start cutting into Lewis Hamilton’s points lead.

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Is Vettel back to his best?

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019
Vettel took a much-needed win in Singapore
Sebastian Vettel said his victory in Singapore, his first for over 12 months, showed some had exaggerated how bad a period he had endured in between. That’s a debatable point – there were an awful lot of serious mistakes crammed into those 20-odd races – but the question now is whether his win has drawn a line under them.

The major question which remains unresolved is whether Vettel can wrest back the qualifying superiority from his team mate. Leclerc has held sway for the last eight races, and unless Vettel can turn the tables, he’s usually going to be on the back foot when it comes to strategy. During the race in Singapore it was clear he was still struggling to tame the SF-90’s rear end, but Leclerc seems to have it mastered at the moment.

McLaren vs Renault

The scrap for fourth in the constructors’ championship – ‘best of the rest’ honours – is well and truly on. Carlos Sainz Jnr and Nico Hulkenberg came to blows on the first lap in Singapore while Daniel Ricciardo was dinged by the stewards and Lando Norris came through to pick up the spoils.

Norris is back on a track he knows this weekend so expect another close fight between the four Renault-engined cars, all of which made it into Q3 last time out.

More Q3 chaos?

Qualifying in Singapore was all about getting clear air, but at Sochi the tow effect will be strong again. We can therefore expect to see drivers vying for a slipstream in qualifying. Hopefully this time all concerned will manage to avoid a repeat of Monza, though with no new rules in place as yet to prevent it, don’t hold your breath.

Time’s up for Sochi

As RaceFans revealed yesterday, this is likely to be F1’s penultimate visit to the Sochi Autodrom. With the best will in the world, it hasn’t proved a great venue in terms of the quality of racing it’s produced. The track is unchallenging and repetitive, the low abrasiveness of the surface makes for predictable strategies and the result is a venue which has the lowest average score from RaceFans readers in Rate the Race.

Will this year’s race be any better? The chance of rain offers hope for something less predictable than we’ve seen in previous seasons.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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4 comments on “Will Mercedes extend streak of wins or defeats? Six Russian GP talking points”

  1. happy hunting ground for the three-pointed Spa

    Get some sleep, Keith :)

  2. that picture of the mercedes is quite striking – it looks a really hideous car from that angle!

    back to the point, i don’t understand why we should have specific rules brought in to prevent what happened in monza. no one gained an advantage from it (except perhaps leclerc, and the team as a whole suffered because vettel ended up out of position), and although it was rather ridiculous to watch, it was actually quite captivating, as you began to realise these multi-million pound organisations had messed up in such a fundamental way. if we introduce new rules every time something untoward happens, we will end up with boring races/qualifying sessions, as they all have to conform to some homogeneous idea of what that race/session should look like.

    i’m all for bringing in rules that increase variability and force drivers and engineers to think on their feet, but rules that do the reverse are reprehensible, in my view.

    1. And in fact Monza quali increased that variability. Never seen such a messy end of a quali.

  3. Will Mercedes extend their losing streak…
    …or their winning streak? – The latter.
    Is Vettel back to his best? – Too early to jump to conclusions based on a single race.
    More Q3 chaos? – Very unlikely to happen. Yes, the Sochi Autodrom has one long and one long-ish full-throttle section, but due to the number of corners, keeping a decent gap to the car ahead is more vital than trying to be within the 3-4 second range. I wouldn’t be worried about that. All the remaining venues have at least one relatively long full-throttle stretch, but a bit too many corners for staying within 3-4 seconds to be worth it.

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