PRIXVIEW – Russian Grand Prix

Prixview Testing & Race Reports

Round sixteen of the season takes Formula One back to the shores of Europe and the Black Sea resort of Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix. The final street circuit of the 2019 season sees the cars wind their way around venues used for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Venues include the Fisht Stadium, used for this year’s World Cup, Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Iceberg Place. The circuit is a street circuit effectively, but like Singapore, it is a low downforce circuit and high speed. However, it is more a purpose-built street circuit with long straights and technical corners.

Sochi, however, is a circuit where overtaking is difficult, there are opportunities to overtake. Sector one is largely made up of straights and the eye conic sweeping curve around the Medals Plaza creates multiple lines and opportunities for overtaking, as well as the sweeping straight from eleven to fourteen. The final sector takes on a more street circuit, a series of ninety-degree corners make up the final four corners.

This is by far not a classic street circuit, but the backdrop of the Olympic Park, the Black Sea and the Caucasus means that it is a brilliant location for the race.

The 3.6-mile circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Mercedes, since 2014 they have dominated in Sochi adding five more wins two the two taken before the outbreak of the first world war.  Attempts to add Russia to the calendar have taken decades and took many failed attempts.

Mercedes continued where they left off in 1914 with a dominating weekend, not just for the works team but customers when it returned to the calendar with Lewis Hamilton leading Nico Rosberg home to secure the constructors, while Valtteri Bottas and the two McLaren’s saw Mercedes power lock out the top five position.

Bottas has always gone very well as it’s a circuit where he scored his first win in 2017 and has always finished in the points, he was on course to win it again last year. But allowed Hamilton to pass him for the sake of the championship. He needs to use this weekend as a boost to his narrowing championship hopes.

However, Russia’s race remains controversial, but ever F1 avoids politics. The strained relationship between Moscow and the west over Ukraine, Syria, Russian inference in elections and the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. But F1 is a business and Russia is a key business market for the sport, and that’s why teams want this race.

Russia has never managed to produce an F1 winner despite it being the worlds biggest nation. Daniil Kvyat has had a rocky career, but this season is beginning to deliver some results. He has only managed to finish in the points once at his home race, but with his mentally

Facts and figures

Round 16 of 21
Race VTB Russian Grand Prix 2019
Venue Sochi Autodromo, Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia
Circuit Length 5.848KM (3.634 MI)
Laps 53
Race Distance 309.732KM (192.459 MI
Lap Record 01:40.896 (Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 2014, F1)
Most wins drivers Lewis Hamilton (3)
Most wins manufacture Mercedes (7)

Fast facts

  • Mercedes have won every Russian Grand Prix, two in the 1910s and everyone since it joined the world championship in 2014.
  • Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel are the only team other than Mercedes to have taken pole position at the Sochi Autodromo
  • Sochi is the fourth-longest circuit on the Formula One calendar, behind Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan and Silverstone in the UK.
  • Sochi is one of eight cities to have hosted the Olympics, one of seven Paralympics and a Grand Prix; the others are Melbourne, Montreal, Barcelona and Mexico City (all current F1 cities), plus Berlin (AVUS), Los Angeles (Long Beach), and Rio de Janeiro (Jacarepaqua).
  • Russia shares a border with fourteen countries including Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, China, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and North Korea. No other country in the world has as many borders.

Event timetable





P1 11:00-12:30 09:00-10:30
P2 15:00-16:30 13:00-14:30


P3 12:00 10:00
Qualifying 15:00 13:00


Race 14:10 12:10

What happened in 2018?

Valtteri Bottas maintained his 100% record of out-qualifying his teammate in Sochi, he beat Lewis Hamilton to pole after he locked up and went wide on his last run in Q3. Mercedes clearly had the pace to beat Ferrari again, as Sebastian Vettel was over half a second off the outright pace. Both Red Bull’s and Renault’s opted not to take part in Q2, knowing that they were starting from the back.

Bottas took the lead early on from pole position maintaining it until the mid-way point, but Mercedes again faced a difficult decision. Hamilton was under pressure from Vettel and that lead to Bottas being asked to hand the position once again to Hamilton.

Bottas grudgingly followed the order. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, led the race while that decision was being made giving the lead of the race. Hamilton was now second behind Verstappen, with a late pit stop giving Kimi Raikkonen the lead.

Raikkonen then couldn’t hold off the Dutchman as he tried to pass, as his tyre life edged away the position went to Verstappen. Hamilton, however, took the lead again when Verstappen stopped with nine laps remaining. The Mercedes lead from the Dutchman’s stop, he re-joined third ahead of Raikkonen.

While Hamilton took the win and extending his championship lead, it was Verstappen who drove the better race along with teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Charles Leclerc finished seventh, having ran as high as fifth early on while the Red Bulls were making their way through the field.

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:27:25.181, 2) V. Bottas, Mercedes, +2.545, 3) S. Vettel, Ferrari, +7.487

What to watch for?

Ferrari come to Sochi off the back of three wins and now are becoming a threat to Mercedes, the question is does that continue in Sochi. You have to believe it does and this, of course, is a street style circuit combined with high speed, so you have to say it does. Mercedes, however, should have a better chance, the heat in Singapore could have played into Ferrari’s hands which was one of the weaknesses we saw in the summer heatwave in Europe.

However, Sochi should be cooler, and Mercedes have won here for the past five years with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. This is a circuit where Bottas has been very strong and has multiple podium finishes, last year again he could have won but gave up the win to help Hamilton’s title bid.

Don’t count Red Bull out, they have proved a headache for Ferrari in recent races but this is a better circuit for them. Ferrari, however, must be motivated on the back of three wins, but I think Singapore proved they have drivers who can cause headaches and Max Verstappen cannot be counted out.

Eyes naturally and pressure is on Daniil Kvyat, his home Grand Prix should put him in the mix providing a good qualifying. Overtaking isn’t easy so as we saw in Singapore strategy is key, a race can be turned by a safety car and this being a street circuit the undercut can be powerful.

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap


01:34.488 01:33.385 01:33.067 01:32.410 01:32.595 01:31.387 01:27:25.181 01:35.861


-1.586 -0.735 -0.934 -1.631 -0.672 -1.807 -47.642 -9.023


01:36.074 01:34.120 01:34.001 01:34.041 01:33.264 01:33.194 01:28:08.743 01:36.884

Data Profile

A lap of …

Sebastian Vettel comes out the corner and heads to the outside, running along the kerb and builds his speed along the straight, keeps the speed through the flat out Turn One. He then goes to the outside of the track along the run to Turn Two, breaking at 100m before the turn. Hits the kerb on entry, then on exit he runs to the inside, before running through the centre at three. Before going to the outside for four, he runs close to the apex, before going to the outside.

Breaks at the 50m metre board for five, hits the apex before running to the outside. Carry’s the speed through the kink which is turn six. Then goes to the outside for seven, runs straight through the corner and runs to the outside, before recrossing the track. Breaks into eight, hits the apex run to the inside carrying speed. Breaks on outside of the circuit for ten, hits the apex and runs to outside along the kerb. Flat through what is effetely a long straight.

Breaks a 100m before turn twelve, turns in nicely setting himself up nicely thirteen and fourteen going nice through. Runs to the outside before crossing the track hits apex of fifteen and sixteen, runs to the outside where he says. He breaks into seventeen hits the apex, runs to the outside. Cross the track, hits the apex then goes to the outside and across the line, with a 01:33.194.




White Hard (C2)

Yellow Medium (C3)

Red Soft (C4)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 1 4 8
V. Bottas 2 3


S. Vettel

Ferrari 1 3 9
C. Leclerc 1 3


M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 1 3


A. Albon 1 3


D. Riccardo

Renault 2 1 10
N. Hulkenberg 1 2


K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 1 2 10
R. Grosjean 1 2


C. Sainz Jr

McLaren – Renault 2 2 9
L. Norris 2 2


S. Perez

Racing Point –Mercedes 1 2 10
L. Stroll 1 2


K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 2 1 10
A. Giovinazzi 1 2


D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso –Honda 1 3 9
P. Gasly 2 2


G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes 1 3 9
R. Kubica 2 2



Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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