Grand Prix 2019 Russian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Onwards to Sochi in one of those frustrating season where we do have three teams in the mix for wins but somehow we have absolutely no title fight kicking off whatsoever. Hamilton has not even had to do his usual post summer blitz to get his massive title lead but has merely gone into Alain Prost mode where he just picks up podiums and consistant results whilst the others go up and down. His nearest rival is his own team mate and he is being anchored down by his own team from challenging Lewis because they are scared of their drivers getting in each others way and giving wins away to Red Bull and Ferrari. So Lewis is laughing and two and half race wins in front in the championship.

So no title fight but we are getting good racing for once. If Ferrari had not messed up so badly with set up and strategy at the begining of the season then it's clear they would have been in contention with Merc, certainly with LeClerc anyways. After Charlie boy was politically swindled out of his third win in a row last time out I'm fully expecting him to drive angry in Russia, which was something he did often in his GP3 and F3 days. It is impressively fast but often ends with a smash. His illustrious team mate has been a shadow of his former self all year but suddenly turned up when he hasn't all year at Singapore. If we ignore the strategy swindle you have to say Vettel had an impressive weekend and drove beautifully. The worrying thing for him was though that even on form he only beat his young team mate via strategy rather than pace. It's possible the win might inspire a revival though. I genuinely hope so as would love to see an on form Vettel mixing it with Hamilton, LeClerc and Verstappen.

Speaking of Max I'm giving his own paragraph to officially doth my cap to him. All year he has been consistently fast, he's had race craft, he's had guile and he has basically looked like the complete racing driver. This is something i've never seen before and often wondered if I would see. Don't get me wrong I always knew he was a fantastic driver on his day but now I see he can do it over a season. Respects to you sir.

Away from the main contenders I'm paying close attention to some of the midfield drivers at the moment as there is a change in the wind. The much maligned Antonio Giovanazzi has found a lot of pace since the summer break. Whilst he has a tendency to get into an accident and not get the results from it the old adage is that it's better to have a fast driver that crashes than a slow driver who plays it safe. Maybe it's time we reassessed him. Similarly we might need to have a look at Piere Gasly too. Before the season started the media decided the story was that Gasly was under pressure and might be dropped. Low and behold it happened! However he is now at Torro Rosso and has had some quality drives (Singapore was probably his best drive in F1) whilst his replacement at Red Bull Albon has not really got much better result than Piere did. Maybe Gasly is going to show he is a capable driver just that most people going head to head with Max Verstappen are going to look ordinary.

So that's the runners and riders but what of Sochi? Well unfortunately it's a pretty dull track with one really good corner. I think last year it may have had no overtakes at all. However it's very harsh to blame the circuit because some of the best GP2 and GP3 races I have ever seen have been held he where the cars were three wide going through turn 3 on nearly every lap. So will the racing improve with the front teams now closer? Maybe. Unfortunately we won't have the Singapore effect where the middle teams are brought close enough to the action to influence it but we may get a few fiesty moves.

Who is going to win? Well I'll let you guys debate that but how about this? Have the rubles been put down by the great Bear hunter? Will we suddenly see the track clear and a certain Dani Kvyat come to the front to complete one of greatest F1 comebacks of all time? I'd love to see that race so let's hope so!
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