We arrive in Sochi this weekend with Lewis Hamilton 48 points ahead of team-mate and closest rival Nico Rosberg with Sebastian Vettel the only other driver still able to catch him.
After his dominance of the Japanese Grand Prix and huge lead over the rest of the drivers in the championship, Hamilton will arrive in Russia full of confidence at a race he won by more than 13 seconds in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix last season.
Rosberg knows that he needs to start piling the pressure on Hamilton during the race if he is to extend the title battle to the end of the season. Another finish in second behind Hamilton here would put him more than 50 points behind with only four races to go, meaning Hamilton could afford race-ending mistakes twice and still lead.
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Despite Rosberg’s need to pick us substantial points, he looks defeated and I think Vettel is likely to be to be the closest to Hamilton in Russia, and could even end up leap frogging Rosberg in the drivers championship.
Taking into account the track layout and the cars that impressed here last season, both Williams drivers will be vying for position at the top end of the pack along with at least one Force India and the second Ferrari, driven by Kimi Raikkonen.
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Don't be surprised to see Toro Rosso and Red Bull there or thereabouts, but be under no illusions; the top three is still likely to consist of Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg, but the battle for the remaining points is wide open with any of the teams mentioned above capable of challenging for a good chunk of points.
With this being only the second time the drivers have driven around here the practise sessions will be used to gain as much data as possible to help them during the race. As with more races on the
Sochi has two DRS Zones to aid over taking, the first between turn one and two and the second longer zone just after turn 10 leading into turn 12.
Number of Laps: 53
Race Distance: 309.745KM
Circuit Length: 5.848KM
This year the tyre allocation will be a step softer as last year was the first race at this track Pirelli were extra cautious. This year they are bringing the Yellow marked Soft and the Red marked Supersoft compounds.
FRIDAY 9TH OCTOBER
Practice 1 – Sky Sports F1 HD (08:00)
Practice 2 – Sky Sports F1 HD (12:00)
SATURDAY 10TH OCTOBER
Practice 3 – Sky Sports F1 HD (10:00)
Qualifying 1 – Sky Sports F1 HD (13:00)
Qualifying 2 – Sky Sports F1 HD (13:22)
Qualifying 3 – Sky Sports F1 HD (13:45)
SUNDAY 11TH OCTOBER
Grid Parade – Sky Sports F1 HD (11:00)
Race – Sky Sports F1 HD (12:00)
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