Ferrari recorded a third straight win in Singapore last weekend, but there is a good chance Mercedes will return to the top step of the podium at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix 2019 (Race: 7:10am ET Sunday).
It was Sebastian Vettel who won in Singapore ahead of his teammate Charles Leclerc, who had qualified on pole and controlled the early pace. Vettel pitted first, and the advantage of the undercut proved so big that he leapfrogged Leclerc to take a lead he never lost.
Ferrari made a few questionable strategic decisions earlier in the season, but got things spot on in Singapore. While the shift in strategy that benefited Vettel was a little unfair on Leclerc, who had dominated the weekend up until that point, it flummoxed Mercedes and turned a likely first and third for Ferrari into their first one-two finish since Hungary 2017.
Things might have been different had a series of safety car periods late in the race not provided Vettel with the opportunity to preserve tyre life. As it was the Ferraris came home first and second, with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in third.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished fourth for Mercedes after running second early on only to be leapfrogged by both Vettel and Verstappen in the pitstops. Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the second Mercedes ahead of the second Red Bull of Alexander Albon.
Ferrari have been resurgent since the summer break, especially in the hands of Leclerc. While they were expected to be in the hunt for victory in Belgium and Italy, tracks where their power advantage and low-drag package were decisive, Singapore was a circuit in which Mercedes and Red Bull were thought likely to lead the way.
Ferrari’s series of updates, including a new front wing, floor and diffuser, all worked well. Their package seemed to gel perfectly with softer tyre compounds that Pirelli brought to the race, resulting in a third consecutive victory.
After winning the first eight races of the year, Mercedes have now won just two of the last seven. Even if they didn’t win again across the remaining six races, Hamilton’s lead in the drivers’ championship and theirs in the constructors’ championship would still be pretty safe. It would take a number of retirements to open up either championship. Mercedes have not only been the quickest team in the hybrid era but also the most reliable.
They also have a pretty good chance of claiming victory this weekend at a circuit where they have dominated since its arrival on the calendar in 2014. Mercedes have won all five of the races in that time, finishing first and second on three occasions, including last year, when Hamilton claimed his third victory in Sochi. Ferrari’s winning spree has lengthened the odds sufficiently to make Hamilton an attractive bet for victory on Sunday.
On the probably fair assumption that Mercedes will have the strongest package this weekend, it might also be worth backing Hamilton’s teammate Bottas for pole position. Hamilton has generally prevailed on race day, but he has been out-qualified by his teammate of the time in four of the five Russian Grand Prix.
Bottas took pole position last year and had previously qualified in the top three on three occasions for the Williams team. He has taken an equal number (four) of pole positions as Hamilton has this season and has a solid chance of taking another on Saturday.
The remaining points positions in Singapore last weekend were the subject of a series of squabbles that contributed to the safety car periods at the end of race. Those who emerged with points, from seventh to 10th, were McLaren’s Lando Norris, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo. The last names briefly led after all of the front-of-the-field cars had pitted.
Giovinazzi took some time to settle and is still comfortably behind his experienced teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the drivers’ standings. The Italian travels to Russia on the back of a pair of improved qualifying performances followed by consecutive points finishes.
Alfa Romeo have scored points in 10 of the 15 races this season. Last year’s Russian Grand Prix was also one of their stronger races under their former name of Sauber, as they qualified seventh and 10th and finished seventh and 13th. The midfield is very competitive, but Giovinazzi has a solid opportunity to take another points finish on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 Russian Grand Prix Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
So, considering the odds available with the trustworthy US sports gambling websites, these are our Russian Grand Prix predictions and picks: