There’s the small matter of a long-standing F1 record that the Brit can equal on Sunday, as he also bids to extend his already daunting Championship lead.
Sochi doesn’t have the best rapport with the F1 public, with recent renewals not producing the most exciting of races. 2020 has been an unprecedented year, however, and maybe even Sochi can surprise us.
Lewis Eyes Fifth Sochi Win
Hamilton, bar a slip up in Italy, has been faultless in 2020. Winning six of the nine races this campaign, he’s been unbeatable in recent years and stands on the precipice of history in Sochi.
The Briton can equal Michael Schumacher’s record of ninety-one race victories in Russia, a number that many said was insurmountable. Given his dominance in the Hybrid Era and untouchable talent, it’s only fitting that he’ll be the one to equal Michael, even if it’s not at this race weekend.
Hamilton does hold the outright record for the most wins in Sochi, winning at the venue four times. His 2018 success is contentious, however, given the employment of team orders by Mercedes when Valtteri Bottas was leading.
4/9, he’s very much expected to extend his Championship lead and take his place alongside Schumacher in the record books.
Bottas Can Spoil Hamilton Party
To say 2020 has been a nightmare for Bottas would be somewhat of an understatement. The Finn started the season on the best possible foot by conquering the field in Austria, but he’s winless since.
Returning to Russia could finally be Bottas’ reprieve. Sochi has been a happy hunting ground for him, securing his maiden victory here in 2017. Taking pole twelve months later, he was leading the race prior to Mercedes employing team orders, which saw him drop behind Hamilton.
Bottas’ record in Russia is clear for all to see and if he can’t start his resurgence here, then trouble could be looming. He’s currently
9/4 to take a second victory at Sochi and that may well be the value play. Hamilton rightly takes the lion’s share of the market given his recent form, which pushes Bottas out to a tempting price.
Red Hot Renault Set up for Success
Renault, and mainly Daniel Ricciardo, have been thriving at recent race weekends. The car comes alive at circuits where a strong engine package is essential, with Ricciardo nearly snatching a podium amongst the chaos in Mugello.
The Australian has finished inside the top six in the last three race weekends, with Esteban Ocon also occupying fifth at the Belgian Grand Prix three races back. The pair are set up for another strong weekend at Sochi, with two long straights and plenty of fast-paced, sweeping corners, suiting their car down to the ground.
Red Bull doesn’t have a strong record at Sochi in recent years and that could open the door for another podium chance for Ricciardo.
*All odds correct at time of writing