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Lewis Hamilton will start from pole in tonight’s Russian Grand Prix in an attempt to equal Michael Schumacher’s record 91 victories in Formula One. Join The Roar for a live blog and race updates from 9:10pm (AEST).
After a solid run of races to get the 2020 season underway, the drivers and teams earnt a deserved rest ahead of a return to the familiar Sochi Autodrom.
What makes this year’s race, held at the site of the former Winter Olympics, all the more special is it’s the first opportunity for championship leader Lewis Hamilton to equal the all-time wins record in the sport currently held by Michael Schumacher: 91 race victories.
A record previously thought unbreakable, four-time Russian Grand Prix winner Hamilton has form on his side tonight. He’s won six of the last eight grand prix in 2020 and four of the six races held in Sochi.
The hybrid street circuit, Sochi blends high-speed corners with heavy braking zones, making for a difficult track to pass at over 53 laps.
Not many have been able to challenge the mighty Mercedes team here, and the reigning six-time champion Hamilton will have to look within his own garage for his nearest race rival. Teammate Valtteri Bottas desperately needs a win to restore some pride, even if the title itself looks out of his grasp.
While Hamilton starts on pole position, a problematic qualifying had the Briton use the soft tyre in Q2 to get himself into the top-10 shootout. This means he will start the race on what is theoretically the weaker tyre.
Both Bottas, starting third, and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, who takes his place on the front row, will have the benefit of the medium tyre in the opening stint. With Pirelli bringing its three softest compounds to this race, there are plenty of questions to be asked as far as strategy is concerned.
Even though Verstappen will threaten from second, there is still a keen eye to be kept on the rest of the midfield being in the mix of a surprise podium. All four-Renault powered cars, led by Daniel Ricciardo in the works team, start in the top eight, while 2015 podium-getter Sergio Perez will start an excellent fourth for Racing Point.
As always, the long run into the first heavy braking point at turn two may prove decisive. The effect of the tow is quite significant, and if the likes of Verstappen or Bottas hope to beat Hamilton, the battle could be won or lost there.
Will Hamilton then match Schumacher’s record 91 wins? Tune in to The Roar from 9:10pm (AEST) for live blog coverage and get ready to witness history at the Russian Grand Prix.
Lights out: 9:10pm (AEST)
Venue: Sochi Autodrom, Russia
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
2019 winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing), 3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), 4. Sergio Perez (Racing Point), 5. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), 6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren), 7. Esteban Ocon (Renault), 8. Lando Norris (McLaren), 9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), 10. Alexander Albon (Red Bull Racing), 11. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), 12. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), 13. Lance Stroll (Racing Point), 14. George Russell (Williams), 15. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 16. Romain Grosjean (Haas), 17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 18. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams), 20. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)