2016 Russian Grand Prix previewby Peter Higham on 29th April 2016
Nico Rosberg is bidding to become just the fourth driver to win seven Grands Prix in a row. Alberto Ascari (1952 Belgian to 1953 Belgian GPs) and Sebastian Vettel (2013 Belgian to Brazilian GPs) share the record with nine successive victories. Michael Schumacher was unbeaten for seven straight races during his successful 2004 campaign. With 17 GP victories to his name, Rosberg now has won more Formula 1 races than any other driver not to win the world championship.
This is the 10th season that has opened with the first three GPs being won by the same man, and on each previous occasion that driver has gone on to be crowned world champion. However, Sochi has not been particularly kind to Rosberg so far. His massive lock-up on the opening lap in 2014 dropped him to the rear of the field although he did charge back to finish second and help secure the constructors’ title for Mercedes-Benz. He qualified on pole position last year but was an early retirement from the race. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton has won both Russian GPs to have been held so far – employing a one-stop strategy on both occasions. Both races featured an all Mercedes front row with Valtteri Bottas’ Williams-Mercedes third on the grid.
Local hero Daniil Kvyat figured strongly on both occasions – qualifying fifth in 2014 and finishing in that position a year later. Sergio Pérez finished third a year ago to score Force India’s only podium of the campaign and Felipe Nasr was another to star of 2015 – finishing sixth for Sauber.