In Review

F1 Russian GP race guide: preview, practice, qualifying, UK start time, predictions, TV, betting odds

Can Mercedes fight back after Ferrari’s three successive victories?

2019 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix

  • What: race No.16 on the F1 2019 calendar  
  • When: 27-29 September 
  • Where: Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia  
  • Race start time: 12.10pm (BST) on Sunday 29 September   
  • TV channels: live on Sky Sports F1 and highlights on Channel 4 

Ferrari aim for a fourth successive victory this weekend but will go up against a Mercedes team that has won every edition of the Russian Grand Prix since Sochi made its debut on the Formula 1 calendar in 2014. 

After Charles Leclerc’s double in Belgium and Italy and Sebastian Vettel’s success in Singapore, Ferrari will be in confident mood at the Sochi Autodrom. 

Team principal Mattia Binotto expects a different kind of race from Singapore and says a “well-balanced car” is key in Russia.  

“After taking three wins in a row, we are keen to get to Russia to see and check how our latest updates will work on what is yet again a different type of track,” said Binotto. 

“Sochi features long straights and a very smooth surface where, once again it is not that easy to get the most out of the tyres. 

“The circuit also requires a completely different set-up and aero configuration to that for Singapore. Having a well balanced car will be a key factor.”

Wolff and Mercedes ready to fight

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas secured a one-two last year in Sochi. However, they go into the Russian GP aiming to avoid four successive defeats for the first time in the hybrid era. 

After a tough weekend in Singapore, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expects his drivers and team to put up a fight. 

“Sochi has been a strong circuit for us in recent years but those trends don’t mean anything once we are on the ground,” said Wolff. 

“We expect the weekend ahead to be another challenging one for us - and the entire team is ready to tackle that challenge head on. 

“The circuit features a range of corner speeds, an unusually smooth asphalt and long straights, particularly on the run down to turn two. We’re hungry to get to Sochi and begin fighting out on track.”

Unfinished business for Bottas 

Last year in Sochi victory was taken away from Valtteri Bottas after Mercedes ordered the Finn to let Lewis Hamilton through to win the race. 

Bottas, who won in Russia in 2017, said: “I’ve got some unfinished business in Sochi. It has normally been a good track for me and I need to make sure it will be again.

“It could be a good track for Ferrari with all the straights, but we’re going there with a good feeling and determined to finish it better than last year and in a different way. 

“With such a quick turnaround [from Singapore] you cannot do much with the car, but there will be things to do with the setup and there will also be some small bit here and there.”

Grid penalties

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon and Toro Rosso duo Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat will be hit by grid penalties in Sochi after engine work from Honda.

Verstappen, Albon and Gasly will drop five places on the grid and Kvyat, who is competing at his home race, will start at the back on Sunday.

The Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix takes place at the Sochi Autodrom in Sochi

2019 F1 Russian GP race guide 

  • Circuit name: Sochi Autodrom 
  • First grand prix: 2014   
  • Number of laps: 53  
  • Circuit length: 5.848km 
  • Race distance: 309.745km  
  • Lap record: 1:35.861 by Valtteri Bottas in 2018 
  • 2018 podium: 1st Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes); 2nd Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes); 3rd Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
When are the practice sessions? 

There are three full practice (FP) sessions in Russia. On Friday 27 September FP1 takes place from 9am to 10.30am and FP2 is from 1pm to 2.30pm. FP3 will be from 10am to 11am on Saturday 28 September. All times BST.

When is qualifying? 

Qualifying in Sochi starts at 1pm (BST) on Saturday 28 September. 

What time does the race start? 

The 2019 F1 Russian Grand Prix starts at 12.10pm (BST) on Sunday 29 September.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Valtteri Bottas F1 Russian GP

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Pundit predictions: who will win in Russia? 

The Daily Telegraph: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

“Bottas is the boss at this track [well, were he not asked to make way for Hamilton last year…] and has never been out-qualified by a team-mate. He took his maiden victory here in 2017 and should have won last year, too. Mercedes have never been beaten here, either. But with Ferrari’s surprisingly good performance in Singapore they could put up a fight here, too. It will be the true test of their upgrades. We think they will be close, but not quite close enough to stop one Mercedes winning. Which one? Hamilton. Podium prediction: 1st Hamilton, 2nd Leclerc, 3rd Bottas.”

Nicolás Quarles van Ufford, GPBlog.com: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

“Bottas seems to particularly love the track as well with his back-to-back pole positions there, and his almost back-to-back wins [if not for that team order]. Ferrari will take the fight right to Mercedes and it’ll be close, and something extraordinary would have to happen if someone other than the two leading teams stood on the podium. Although he hasn’t won since Baku, 12 races ago, we fancy Bottas to take the flag this Sunday.”

Matthew Atkinson, The Stats Zone: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

“With Russia back-to-back after Singapore, teams will have little time for new developments. This should be a close battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, but with Ferrari making it four-on-the-trot. The question is whether Vettel’s victory was a one-off, or whether Leclerc will be more determined following his lost win to a strategy undercut. Vettel could create further unrest within the team by winning this weekend.”

Russian GP betting odds

Prices according to Oddschecker

Russian GP race winner odds
  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 7/4  
  • Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): 2/1  
  • Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 11/4  
  • Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 6/1  
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 20/1  
  • Alexander Albon (Red Bull): 100/1  
  • See Oddschecker for full price list
The Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix takes place at the Sochi Autodrom in Sochi

Russian GP TV guide 

Sky Sports F1 will show live coverage of practice, qualifying and the GP from Sochi. Channel 4 will show highlights of qualifying and the race.

Before Saturday’s qualifying session there will be an #AskCrofty special with Jenson Button on Sky Sports F1 starting at 11.10am (BST).  

Watch F1 on Now TV

Formula 1 fans can also watch the action live on Now TV. Viewers can subscribe to a Sky Sports Day Pass via Now TV for just £8.99, the most economical way of watching each race.

Sky Sports F1’s coverage of the Russian GP Thursday 26 September 
  • 1pm: drivers’ press conference  
  • 3pm: Welcome to the Weekend
Friday 27 September 
  • 8.45am: practice one build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)  
  • 9am: practice one live (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)  
  • 12.45pm: practice two build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)  
  • 1pm: practice two live (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)  
  • 3.30pm: The Story So Far
Saturday 28 September 
  • 9.45am: practice three build-up  
  • 10am: practice three live  
  • 11.10am: #AskCrofty with Jenson Button  
  • 12pm: qualifying build-up  
  • 1pm: Russian GP qualifying  
  • 3.45pm: The F1 Show
Sunday 29 September 
  • 10.30am: Pit Lane Live (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)  
  • 11.30am: On The Grid (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)  
  • 12.10pm: F1 Russian Grand Prix live (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)  
  • 2pm: Paddock Live  
  • 3pm: Russian GP Notebook  
  • 3.55pm: race replay  
  • 5.30pm: highlights on Sky One  
  • 6pm: race highlights
Channel 4 coverage of the Russian GP
  • Saturday 28 September, 6.30pm: highlights from qualifying 
  • Sunday 29 September, 6pm: Steve Jones, Allan McNish and Billy Monger present highlights from Russia 

Sochi Autodrom circuit graphic: Formula1.com

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