Lewis Hamilton will have his first opportunity to draw level with Michael Schumacher at the top of the all-time Formula 1 wins list at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

After picking up his 90th career victory at Mugello, Russia provides Hamilton with his first attempt to equal a record that has stood unrivalled since Schumacher’s last win in 2006.

There are still eight races left to run on this year’s revised and heavily disrupted schedule, with Hamilton expected to eclipse Schumacher’s 91 wins record on his way to matching the German’s seven world drivers’ titles.

Hamilton’s win last time out at Mugello extended the Briton’s world championship lead to 55 points over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Considering Hamilton’s imperious start to the season, with the Mercedes driver winning six of the opening nine races, and his past form around Sochi, you’d be brave to bet against him this weekend.

What’s more, the Netflix Drive to Survive crew has been granted access to film Hamilton’s record-equalling attempt for its third season of its hit fly-on-the-wall F1 documentary series.

"Last year, they [Netflix] shadowed us at Hockenheim where we celebrated our home race and 125 years of motorsport - and had our worst race of the season,” Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff noted.

"That made for a very entertaining Netflix episode, but we hope that this time we can have great content and a great race."

Mercedes remains undefeated at the Sochi circuit since it joined the calendar in 2014 and Hamilton has claimed four of the six victories on offer in Russia.

With Ferrari unlikely to be vying for pole position with Mercedes as it has in recent years, and Red Bull not expecting to pull off miracles, the German manufacturer heads into the 10th round of the campaign as firm favourites.

Ferrari brings the upgrades

After a difficult triple-header in which Ferrari could only score five points across the three races at Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Mugello, the Scuderia will bring some minor upgrades to Sochi.

Well aware of its current plight into F1’s midfield pack and competitive struggles at circuits that place emphasis on having strong engine performance and an efficient aero package, Ferrari is not expecting its problems to be fixed in Russia.

The Italian outfit’s main focus is on making improvements for 2021 with the limited development scope that is permitted within the regulations, although it has not completely given up on an attempt to make progress this season.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed the plans to bring a part-revised package to Russia, though he downplayed the likelihood of the updates resulting in any major swing in fortunes for his side.

"We will be introducing a few small aero updates on the SF1000, as part of the plan which extends over the next few races to correct as far as possible the weaknesses seen in recent races, particularly with a view to 2021," said Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies.

"We’re not expecting this small package to make a big change but it will allow us to check its functionality and give us a baseline for future developments."

Perez’s F1 future in the balance

The announcement at Mugello that Sebastian Vettel will be an Aston Martin driver for 2021 has left current Racing Point driver Sergio Perez out in the cold and facing an uncertain future.

Despite signing fresh terms last year to remain with the Silverstone outfit until 2022, Perez’s contract has been cut short by two years, having received an unexpected call from team owner Lawrence Stroll informing him that he had lost his seat to four-time world champion Vettel for next year.

The Mexican has now been left scrabbling to secure one of the last-remaining seats on the grid for 2021, with few competitive options up for grabs.

SEE ALSO: Who will fill the eight remaining F1 seats on the 2021 grid? 

The most attractive potential landing spots for Perez appear to come at either Alfa Romeo or Haas, with both teams yet to finalise their respective driver line-ups next year.

But there is huge competition for the seats, with the likes of fellow free agent Nico Hulkenberg, and Ferrari’s trio of Formula 2 frontrunners, also in the hunt for a place on the F1 grid.

Perez’s future is likely to be a topic of discussion during the driver’s media briefings on Thursday in Russia. A week’s break between races will have given Perez some time to consider his options and perhaps even begin some talks – will he have an update to share?

When is the Russian GP on TV?

Friday September 25

Free Practice 1: 9:00am-10:30am BST (11:00am-12:30pm local)
Free Practice 2: 1:00pm-2:30pm BST (3:00pm-4:30pm local)

Saturday September 26

Free Practice 3: 10:00am-11:00am BST (12:00pm-1:00pm local)
Qualifying: 1:00pm-2:00pm BST (3:00pm-4:00pm local)

Sunday September 27

Race: 12:10pm BST (2.10pm local)

Russian GP Pirelli tyre allocation

For the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, Pirelli has opted for its softest available range of compounds, bringing the C3 (Hard), C4 (Medium) and C5 (Soft).

For all of the races in the revised 2020 season, each driver will have an allocation of eight sets of the red-walled Softs, three sets of the yellow-walled Mediums, and two sets of the white-walled Hards.

Recent Russian GP Winners:

2019: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2018: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2017: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
2016: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2015: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

 

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