After three consecutive victories and a surprising performance in Singapore, can Ferrari continue its recent resurgence in the 2019 Formula 1 season at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix?

Ferrari heads to Sochi with the chance of securing four straight victories for the first time since the 2008 season as it looks to follow up on its triumphs at Spa, Monza and Singapore following F1’s summer break.

Sebastian Vettel will be revitalised after a timely and much-needed first win in over a year, while teammate Charles Leclerc is desperate to hit back after being frustrated by a Ferrari strategy call that saw his hopes of claiming a third successive win slip away.

After its impressive showing in Singapore, a circuit not expected to suit its 2019 package, Ferrari will be confident heading to the Sochi Autodrom, a track which combines sweeping, long straights with slow-speed corners.

The Scuderia’s SF90 should be mighty on the straights – only aided further by the successful introduction of a revised aero package in Singapore – while solid improvements were found in the slow-speed sections of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

“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 Ferrari team principal Mattia 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.”

Can Ferrari turn up the heat on Mercedes by inflicting another defeat on the reigning world champion squad in Russia?

Mercedes will come back 'stronger'

Since the Russian GP joined the F1 calendar in 2014, Mercedes, as at most venues on the calendar, has been utterly dominant.

The German manufacturer is yet to be bested at Sochi, having racked up five consecutive wins since the start of the V6 hybrid era.

But following Ferrari’s surprising victory last time out in Singapore, Mercedes might just face its toughest challenge yet if it is to maintain its 100 percent record in Russia.

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have not managed to register a win since the Hungarian Grand Prix prior to the summer break, though the Briton still holds a comfortable buffer in the drivers’ world championship standings.

It would take a remarkable set of circumstances for Hamilton not to seal a sixth world title this year, or for Mercedes to fail to surpass Ferrari’s all-time record of consecutive constructors’ title wins, but the Silver Arrows will be determined to get back on track this weekend.

In the team's preview ahead of the Russian GP weekend, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff conceded: "Singapore was a tough weekend for us.

"We had opportunities to win the race, both with a stronger qualifying on Saturday and our decision-making on Sunday - but we failed to do so, for a number of different reasons.

"But it was also a valuable reminder of the sceptical and humble mindset that has been so important for our success in the past seasons. "Straight after the race, we started to analyse what went wrong in Singapore and we will use those lessons to learn and improve.

"These difficult days are the ones that make us stronger: this team has shown time and again that it can turn weaknesses into strengths. And we will do so again, here."

What of a Red Bull challenge?

Red Bull left Asia disappointed by its lack of performance at Singapore, a track it had pinpointed as being one of its best opportunities to take a third victory of 2019 at.

While Max Verstappen ultimately made the most of a strong strategy from Red Bull to complete the Singapore podium in third, he was not happy to have only secured fourth place on the grid (and half a second off the pace) in qualifying.

The Dutchman felt the weekend had acted as a “little wake-up call” for Red Bull, and he is remaining grounded about the team’s chances in Russia, despite saying he has “a few ideas” about why the Milton Keynes squad wasn’t as competitive as hoped last time out.

“I was happy to be on the podium in Singapore and the team made some good strategy calls in the race, but I’m looking forward to Russia where there are more overtaking opportunities,” Verstappen said.

“The track layout isn’t that amazing for us but it’s unique as most of the corners are 90 degrees which we don’t usually experience and it’s always challenging to go from high-speed straights into low speed corners and get the best out of the car under braking.

“It’s a pretty flat track and you can see quickly if the car is working well through the more challenging corners. Ferrari were very quick in Singapore and the straights in Sochi will suit them, but I have a few ideas about our performance last weekend that we’ll analyse and hopefully improve on in Russia.”

Both Verstappen and Red Bull teammate Alexander Albon will face the added challenge of being hit with five-place grid penalties after Honda introduced new power unit components into its engine pool for Sochi, with its attentions focused on the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix. 

 

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