F1 championship leader Rosberg seeks fourth straight season success in Russian Grand Prix
Lee Gormley | April 26, 2016
Russian Grand Prix
- Sunday, May 1st
- Race starts: 13:00 BST
- Sochi Autodrom
- Live on Sky Sports F1
Formula 1 season reaches Russian GP
The Formula 1 season continues this weekend and this time it’s the turn of the Russian Grand Prix, as Drivers’ Championship leader Nico Rosberg looks to maintain his impressive start to proceedings on a Sochi Autodrom circuit which he finished second at in 2014.
German Mercedes driver Rosberg also secured pole position in qualifying on the Russian track last year, but failed to capitalise as he was forced to retire after just seven laps due to throttle issues, but this seasons’s front runner is 13/10 with Coral to claim first place on Sunday.
The 30-year-old faces stern competition from reigning world champion and teammate Lewis Hamilton though, with the Briton having prevailed on Russian soil for the last two successive seasons since it was reintroduced to the race calendar, and he is 5/4 favourite to succeed once again.
Hamilton still the benchmark says Rosberg
Championship leader Rosberg has emerged victorious in all three of the opening races so far this season, storming to top of the podium in Australian, Bahrain and China, but the Mercedes steerer is 5/4 to become the fastest qualifier this weekend.
Despite his quick start to the campaign, the German has hailed teammate Hamilton as the benchmark for him as the defending champion, with Mercedes’ stars having showed encouraging speed ahead of those of Ferrari and Red Bull this year.
“It’s great to see that we still have the quickest car out there and, of course, it’s always the plan to win every race. But I would never have expected the first three weekends to go the way they have,” stated Rosberg, whose team are odds-on 1/7 to produce the race winner.
“Ferrari haven’t shown what they can do yet…”
“I’ve made the most of my opportunities and I have a bit of an advantage in the points right now – but we are only three races down and it would just take one bad weekend for that gap to disappear.
“Lewis is still the benchmark for me as he is the current champion, Ferrari haven’t shown what they can do yet and Red Bull also look like they’re getting stronger, so it’s going to be a good battle and I’m looking forward to that. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“For now, I’m just taking things race by race, focusing on doing my own thing and getting the job done to the best of my ability. That approach has worked out well for me so far. Now, I can’t wait to get to Sochi.”
With respective German and Finnish former world champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen still searching for form this term, the Ferrari team are 9/2 to have the winner in Russia, while Red Bull are 33/1 chances, as Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat look to challenge.
Russian Kvyat relishing home comforts
Russian Red Bull steerer Kvyat will relish featuring on his home circuit and the young competitor is 6/1 to earn a podium finish in front of his own fans, having secured third in China, while Australia teammate Ricciardo is 10/3 to do so.
“I’m very excited to get back to Russia for the Grand Prix. It’s an important race for me and it’s nice to see my family and friends and all the fans who come to support me and the team in Sochi. I can’t wait!” said the 21-year-old.
“It will be a hectic week and thinking about Daniel’s busy week in Australia it’s a bit of a payback for me in a way but you already got into quite a good rhythm after the first few races so you’re used to it in a way.
“In the end it’s my home race and that gives me an extra boost as well. It’s very nice to have a home race. It’s very special for every driver so I think I’m very lucky to have one.”
Former British world champion Jenson Button recently admitted that his team McLaren were headed in the right direction this season, and he is 7/4 to race to a points finish in Sochi, while Spanish teammate Fernando Alonso is 13/8 to get scores on the board following his recent horror crash in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Force India driver Sergio Perez is 4/1 for a top six finish after claiming third position in Russia last season, with Finnish Williams racer Valtteri Bottas 13/8 to achieve that same feat on a track he secured a podium place on back in 2014.