Russian Grand Prix: Ferrari to end Mercedes' strong Sochi showing?
Sochi. It looks lovely on television, the snow-capped Caucasus mountains on one side, the shimmering Black Sea on the other, a pleasant-looking town sandwiched in between, reminiscent of New Zealand's South Island, or perhaps Switzerland, with a few futuristic Olympic buildings thrown in to spice it up.
The reality is somewhat less perfect - a humdrum town with not much going on, few restaurants that seem to know how to cook a decent meal or serve it within a reasonable time or in the right order.
A paddock in shade - and often therefore distinctly chilly - for much of the day. An unremarkable track. And then there's all the political baggage that comes with it, too. Still, put all that aside, and there is plenty to look forward to this weekend.
Where are we?
With the Black Sea on one side and the Caucasus Mountains on the other, the backdrop for the Russian Grand Prix is both stunning and unique.
The city of Sochi is a popular holiday resort but has also developed into a sporting venue in recent years.
The circuit itself weaves in and around the site of the Olympic Park for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the city will also be a host city for next year's football World Cup.
It could be a good weekend for...
McLaren. Well, maybe not a good weekend but a better one than they have had so far this season.
They had a surprisingly good final day in testing in Bahrain after the last race, so good in fact that it even took the team by surprise.
Stoffel Vandoorne completed 81 laps, finishing fourth fastest, and McLaren were at a loss to explain how he had done so well, given that the engine was the same specification as the one that struggled after two laps on the first day of testing.
The circuit, where straight-line speed is important, isn't the best for the McLaren package but getting through the weekend with minimal reliability issues would be an important step forward.
It could be a bad weekend for...
Marcus Ericsson. The Swede has struggled so far this season, retiring from two of the three races so far with his best finish 15th in China.
His Sauber team-mate Pascal Wehrlein returned in Bahrain after missing the first two races as he built up his fitness following a back injury and promptly finished 11th.
The pressure will be on Ericsson to ensure his is closer to Wehrlein this weekend.
Hulkenberg's Russia hoodoo - the stats
- Ferrari have won two races so far this season - their best start to a year since 2008 when they won four of the first five races.
- Valtteri Bottas, while driving for Williams, became the first non-Mercedes driver to start on the front row in Sochi last year.
- Toro Rosso's Russian driver Daniil Kvyat has yet to finish higher than fifth at his home race.
- Nico Hulkenberg has crashed out on the first lap of the last two races in Russia.
How to follow on the BBC
|Russian Grand Prix coverage details (all times BST)|
|Date||Session||Time||Radio coverage||Online text commentary|
|Friday, 28 April||Preview||21:30||BBC Radio 5 live and podcast|
|Friday, 28 April||First practice||08:55||BBC Radio 5 live sports extra||from 08:30|
|Friday, 28 April||Second practice||12:55||BBC Sport website||from 12:30|
|Saturday, 29 April||Third practice||09:55||BBC Radio 5 live sports extra||from 09:30|
|Saturday, 29 April||Qualifying||12:55||BBC Radio 5 live sports extra||from 12:00|
|Sunday, 30 April||Race||13:00||BBC Radio 5 live||from 11:30|
|Monday, 31 April||Review||04:30||BBC Radio 5 live and podcast|