Heavy rain threatens another washout

According to the current weather forecast, heavy rain threatens to curtail this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Rain is forecast on the three days of running, while there’s currently a 100 per cent chance of rain on Saturday.

The Belgian Grand Prix was ultimately reduced to just two laps behind the Safety Car before a result was declared - hopefully F1 and the FIA have learnt from this.

For the first time in 2021, F2 and F3 are also in action at the same weekend as F1, so it will be fascinating to see whether all the races go ahead as planned.

Will Verstappen take a new power unit?

This weekend could be when Red Bull decides to give Verstappen a fresh power unit.

The Dutchman has a three-place grid penalty to serve for his role in the incident with Hamilton at Monza, and we’ve seen in the past that it is possible to get through the field at the Sochi Autodrom.

Verstappen went from the back of the grid to finish fifth in 2018, while Alexander Albon enjoyed a similar recovery a year later.

With Mercedes likely to hold a significant performance advantage anyway, it could be the right time for Red Bull.

Mercedes the favourites

Mercedes has a faultless record in Russia, winning every race since it was introduced to the calendar back in 2014.

Other than in 2019, Mercedes has often held a significant performance advantage over its rivals.

Hamilton has won in Russia four times, while Valtteri Bottas claimed his maiden win at Sochi in 2017 before taking a second victory in 2020.

Sergio Perez believes Mercedes will be “hard to beat”, and given recent history, it is a fair comment to make.

The battle behind

McLaren’s 1-2 finish at the Italian Grand Prix moved it ahead of Ferrari in the race for third in the constructors’ championship.

The battle between two of F1 legendary constructors has ebbed and flowed all season, but who will hold the balance of power in Russia?

The first sector will suit McLaren given its straight-line high-speed advantage, while Ferrari will thrive in the final two-thirds of the lap.

Lando Norris has been brilliant in wet conditions in 2021 - without his crash at Spa in Q3, he’d likely have taken pole position.

Sochi heads towards the exit door

This weekend’s Russian GP will be the penultimate race at the Sochi Autodrom before it's moved to the Autodrome Igora Drive, north of St. Petersburg from 2023.

Making its debut in 2014, the races have often been uneventful, making it not a fan favourite among fans.

The tight, twisty section which ends the lap means it is difficult to follow before the long, start-finish straight.

The track surface is incredibly smooth meaning tyre degradation is never a factor.

Not many people will miss Sochi besides a certain Finnish Mercedes driver.