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Lewis Hamilton heads into the 2018 Formula One Russian Grand Prix on Sunday with a 40-point lead from Sebastian Vettel at the top of the drivers’ championship.
There are just six rounds remaining which means the Ferrari driver really needs a victory on Sunday to revive his title hopes.
Hamilton is in dominant form with four wins from the last five races. Mercedes also have an excellent record in Russia and have won every race since it returned to the calendar back in 2014.
Date: Sunday, September 30
Start Time: 12:10 p.m. BST/7:10 a.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports F1, ESPN2
Live Stream: Sky Go, WatchESPN
The Russian Grand Prix takes place in Sochi and is a street circuit which goes through the Olympic Park used for the 2014 Winter Olympics. It’s a challenging course featuring some high-speed 90 degree corners and a long pit straight.
Here’s a virtual lap of the track with Williams’ Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin:
Valtteri Bottas took victory last year for Mercedes, and the early signs are that the team are in good shape once again in Sochi.
Hamilton topped the standings after Friday’s practice ahead of Bottas, with Vettel off the pace and down in fifth:
Formula 1 @F1
FP2 CLASSIFICATION: A strong session for @MercedesAMGF1 #RussianGP 🇷🇺 #F1 https://t.co/WlAL604IIG
Vettel offered his thoughts on how the team was looking after Friday’s practice, per Matt Morlidge at Sky Sports.
“We look quite far away from the rest of the field so not ideal,” he said. “We are struggling a bit for one lap and also on the long runs. From just looking at ourselves it wasn’t a good day. I think we have some catching up to do.”
Both Mercedes and Ferrari will be using upgrades on their cars this weekend, as noted by Motor Sport magazine’s Mark Hughes:
Mark Hughes @SportmphMark
Major front end aero upgrade on the Ferrari for Sochi. New, Ferrari-like, double rear wing mounting for Mercedes. Development war still flat out.
Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix in 2014 and 2015 and is a man in red-hot form. Mercedes look the team to beat, and Ferrari will have to work hard if they are to top the standings this weekend.
Elsewhere, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will start the race from the back of the track after being penalised for new engines and gearboxes, per Andrew Benson at BBC Sport:
Andrew Benson @andrewbensonf1
Grid penalties for Verstappen and Ricciardo for taking new gearboxes, on top of the penalties they already have for new engines
Verstappen and Ricciardo will have to make their way through the field but have showed they have plenty of pace in Russia:
Formula 1 @F1
Just five hundredths off P1 in FP1
Quicker than everyone bar Mercedes in FP2
Early signs point to a “fun” Sunday for @Max33Verstappen at the #RussianGP 🇷🇺 #F1 https://t.co/jhTfVZ1EyM
Toro Rosso drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley will also be at the back, along with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso after “changing multiple power unit elements,” per Adam Cooper at Autosport.
Alonso is due to start 16th with the other four drivers taking the positions from 17th to 20th on the grid for Sunday’s start.