With just eight races of the season remaining, this weekend Formula 1 rolls into the Sochi Autodrom for the Russian Grand Prix.
As Max Verstappen clings to his five-point World Drivers’ Championship advantage over Lewis Hamilton, the friction has been starting the show between the two title rivals, whilst Red Bull themselves seem to have become further agitated by the Briton’s off-track performances.
Returning to a circuit they have monopolised since the Russian GP returned to the F1 calendar, Mercedes can make it eight wins from eight this weekend, with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas having won here on the last two occasions. With Verstappen set to start Sunday’s race at the back of the grid after being forced to change his car’s Honda engine again – now a fourth unit for Red Bull this term – those chances look strong.
Indeed, Hamilton is tipped to take the chequered flag and regain his points lead at 4/9 with all major bookies. Bottas meanwhile, after a strong weekend at Monza last time out could also be a big player in Russia and his 4/1 price with SpreadEx looks well worth examination.
What of Verstappen’s chances from the back row of the grid? If there was one man you would pick to storm through the field on Sunday it is the Dutchman, but for him to take an eighth win of the campaign would take one of the most extraordinary drives in modern times, and at 16/1 with MansionBet. A podium finish though is not out the question, and at 11/5 with BetVictor is perhaps worth a punt.
Turning our attentions to McLaren meanwhile, after their sensational 1-2 in Lombardy a fortnight ago, can the Woking manufacturer back it up on the banks of the Black Sea? Daniel Ricciardo’s Italian win was not completely out of the blue after a run of better form, and it would not be a surprise to see the Perth driver back in the shake-up here.
The same is true of Lando Norris who followed his teammate home at Monza. A market to check out therefore, is SkyBet’s Ricciardo vs Norris special, where, whilst Norris is evens to finish ahead of the Australian in Sochi, Ricciardo is 11/4 to come home ahead of his paddock mate for the second race on the bounce. The same bookmaker meanwhile, also have a boosted price of 5/2 for Norris to take a podium spot this weekend.