Mercedes driver from England, Lewis Hamilton, has a great opportunity to celebrate the 100th victory of his career in Formula 1 at the Russian Grand Prix this weekend in Sochi.
Mercedes is known as the ruler of Sochi and has won all the races at this circuit since it was first held in 2014. While Hamilton has won the first podium four times out of seven races there. While his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas has also celebrated two wins there. One remaining victory was won by Nico Rosberg before retiring from Mercedes.
However, past performances are not always the best indicator this season.
Red Bull’s driver and current standings leader Max Verstappen, who will turn 24 next week, will appear even more pressing than usual as the competition for the world title becomes more intense.
Verstappen’s job in Russia will be even more difficult as he has to serve a three-place starting penalty following his collision with Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix, in which stewards said the Dutchman was the main cause of the crash.
Meanwhile, Hamilton has not won another race since Silverstone in July, but Sochi could give him his 100th win in his fifth attempt to race at the circuit.
No other team, not even Ferrari, has won the same race for the seventh year in a row, let alone eighth, but Mercedes remains the favourites.
“Lewis… is very focused on what he needs to succeed in the next eight races,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff as quoted by Reuters ahead of the Russian Grand Prix.
“As for Valtteri, he’s racing much better than before… fighting for the championship, is what we really enjoy.”
While Red Bull has never secured pole in Sochi, a position that has only been achieved by Mercedes and Ferrari drivers.
Verstappen, however, has started from the top eight times out of 14 races this season.
The seven victories he has won this season are also thanks to the top three starting positions on the grid.
The Dutchman now has a five-point lead over Hamilton in the standings, while Red Bull are 18 points behind Mercedes in the race for the constructors’ title.
“We are more competitive this year and we have a better package at the moment so it will be interesting to see how competitive we are this year,” said Verstappen, who finished runner-up last year in Sochi.
“Obviously it’s going to be completely different with Monza and it looks like it’s going to rain this weekend… I can’t wait to get back there and see what we can do.
“Penalties are certainly not ideal but there is no loss, I see it that way.”
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris celebrated McLaren’s 1-2 finish at Monza but Sochi was the only race in which the Woking side failed to score points in the 2020 season.
They will try to forget last year’s failure as both McLaren drivers are currently on fire after delivering McLaren’s first win since 2012 and finishing 1-2 since 2010.
Meanwhile, Ferrari, who are battling McLaren in the race for the constructors’ third place, will also be looking to steal a chance after solid points finishes from Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz .