Drafting the Circuits

Formula 1 Report

Russian Grand Prix Preview

By Steve Aibel


The Russian Grand Prix will be run on Sunday with Lewis Hamilton working on the final layer of his third driver’s championship. With a 48-point lead over teammate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton can essentially clinch the championship in the next two races. If there is any life left in Rosberg’s championship hopes, it needs to be revived immediately on track coupled with some poor fortune for the current champion.

The Grand Prix in Sochi is in its second year. Last year the inaugural race was won by, you guessed it, Lewis Hamilton who took his 4th win in a row. Mercedes also clinched their first Constructors Championship in the Russian event last year.

Is Lewis Hamilton closing in on his 3rd Driver's Championship

Is Lewis Hamilton closing in on his 3rd Driver’s Championship

The track itself in Sochi, Russia sits on the Olympic site of 2014. The drivers have mainly stated that the facilities are world class but the track itself could be better. Daniel Ricciardo described Sochi as “90 degree corner-straight-90degree corner-straight so in terms of driver satisfaction it’s a little flat.”

Russian Grand Prix Circuit

Russian Grand Prix Circuit

Pirelli also took a conservative role in tire choice last year using soft and medium tires. The 2014 race had the teams moaning that the tires did not degrade at all on the new racing surface. Christian Horner described last years tires as bullet proof. This year, Pirelli have chosen to go with a softer tire combination using the soft and supersoft sets, which they hope will provide more degradation.

Daniil Kvyat will provide hope for the Russian fans that will push hard for the Red Bull driver. With Toro Rosso last year, Kvyat qualified well but was not able to parlay his 5th place starting position into a points paying finish. Kvyat finished in 14th.   This year, with Red Bull Racing, Kvyat is working hard to catch teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the drivers championship sitting 7 points adrift.

This is a home race for Daniil Kvyat

This is a home race for Daniil Kvyat

The FIA World Motor Sport Council announced a revised Formula 1 race calendar for 2016 featuring 21 races, the addition of the Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, and the return of the German Grand Prix.

An effort will be made to increase the noise volume by introducing a single waste gate for all exhaust gas. “All cars must have a separate exhaust wastegate tailpipe through which all and only wastegate exhaust gases must pass.” Although the intention is to increase the noise of the turbo-charged engines, there is some speculation as to whether this solution will result in the desired effect.

Manor has announced a partnership with Mercedes for power units, which should immediately improve results for the team.   Manor will pair this engine deal with a suspension and transmission deal with Williams, which shows Manor has a strong strategy to rebuild their F1 reputation.

Bringing aboard Alexander Rossi has been paying dividends and putting off developing a 2015 car should allow for the team to concentrate on their 2016 contender while others are still working on the current car.

Manor will be a team to observe in 2016. Watching who occupies their race seats will help to reveal their long-term commitment to the sport. Expect Manor to compete in the mid pack or this could easily be their final year in F1.

And speaking of mid-pack, Haas F1 Team staged their first big press announcement naming Romain Grosjean as their lead driver. Landing Grosjean was a huge coup for the fledgling American team. A technical partnership with Ferrari and the fast and experienced Grosjean aboard, Haas has the potential and to be a huge surprise right off the bat.

Romain Grosjean comes to Haas F1 Team

Romain Grosjean comes to Haas F1 Team

It was something of a surprise that Haas did not announce their second driver. Esteban Gutierrez is expected to be named to the driver line up and perhaps they are waiting to make that announcement at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Finally, Jenson Button was retained at McLaren and will be again paired with Fernando Alonso in 2016. McLaren have been nothing short of a disaster, as Honda has not delivered the expected power in their first year returning to F1. With Alonso vocally frustrated and Button having one foot out the door, Ron Dennis, McLaren and Honda have miles to go to get this legendary team back to its former glory.

Drivers’ Championship

  1. Lewis Hamilton 277
  2. Nico Rosberg 229
  3. Sebastian Vettel 218
  4. Kimi Raikkonen 119
  5. Valtteri Bottas 111
  6. Felipe Massa    97
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 73
  8. Daniil Kvyat          66
  9. Romain Grosjean  44
  10. Sergio Perez 39
  11. Nico Hulkenberg 38
  12. Max Verstappen 32
  13. Felipe Nasr 17
  14. Pastor Maldonado 16
  15. Carlos Sainz Jr. 12
  16. Fernando Alonso 11
  17. Marcus Ericsson 9
  18. Jenson Button 6


Constructors’ Championship

  1. Mercedes 506
  2. Ferrari 337
  3. Williams 208
  4. Red Bull 139
  5. Force India 77
  6. Lotus 60
  7. Toro Rosso 44
  8. Sauber 26
  9. McLaren 17
  10. Manor/Marussia 0