Scuderia Ferrari head to Russia in high spirits on the back of achieving of three Grand Prix wins in a row. A feat that has not been achieved by this team for eleven years.
Sebastian Vettel led home a Ferrari one-two from Charles Leclerc in Singapore to achieve his first win since the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix.
The Italian team have yet to win at the Sochi Autodrom though, as their rivals Mercedes-AMG Motorsport have dominated the circuit with five wins from five races since the venue’s arrival on the Formula 1 calendar in 2014.
Now that he is finally got his winning mojo back, Vettel could be the one to watch, particularly that he had previously taken pole position in Russia in 2017 and finished on the podium three times there.
He aims to find the perfect lap in qualifying on Saturday to put himself in the best position for the race on what he describes is “one of the trickiest tracks” of the season.
“We’ve raced in Russia a few times now. It’s another circuit where we’ve come close to winning but never quite managed it,” Vettel added.
“I’ve started from the front row and in fact two years ago, Ferrari locked out the front row, but we really want the satisfaction of taking that last step and winning. It is something quite special racing past the Olympic Stadium and the Medal Plaza used for the Winter Games, so it’s definitely unique in terms of its setting.
“A lot of the corners are similar to one another, but they’re all very technical and finding the entry point can be quite tricky, as is getting the braking point right and finding the best way of rotating the car in order to be fast, while also looking after the tyres.
“From a technical point of view it’s one of the trickiest tracks we have on the calendar but it’s rewarding when you’re able to put together the perfect flying lap, especially in qualifying.”
Charles Leclerc meanwhile, continues to impress in his first campaign for Ferrari, now that he is tied on points with third-place Max Verstappen and only six points in front of Vettel heading into Sochi.
The Monegasque’s previous F1 visit to Russia when he was competing for Sauber saw him qualify and finish in a brilliant seventh position.
He has found Ferrari making “good progress” with the SF90 in recent races, which he hopes to convert that with another solid result this weekend.
“Arriving in Russia with three positive weekends behind us feels great,” Leclerc said.
“We have made good progress on our car, especially in terms of our performance on high downforce tracks, and seem to be more competitive on tracks with various layouts now. The Sochi circuit can be challenging, featuring a combination of high speed straights and lots of corners, especially in the last sector.
“I look forward to getting back in the car on Friday to see how it goes at this circuit and time will tell whether we can be as strong here as we have been lately. The atmosphere in Sochi is unusual, in that we are surrounded by the Olympic complex. It is special to compete at a location that has played such a big part in international sporting history, which gives this place a unique feeling.”
Ferrari now sit a comfortable second in the Constructors’ Championship, one-hundred and five points clear of third place Red Bull Racing. Despite the one-two in Singapore, they are a massive one-hundred and thirty-three points behind Mercedes with six races.
With only six races left and a maximum two-hundred and sixty-four points, it is unrealistic to see the most successful outfit in Formula 1 history to win a seventeenth Constructors’ Championship in 2019.
Team Principal Mattia Binotto is keen to find out how the “latest updates” will work on his team’s car in Sochi.
“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,” Binotto shared.
“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.
“The forecast for Sochi is for changeable weather, so it will be important to be prepared for every eventuality.”