Formula 1 this weekend heads to a new venue for the first running of the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, however the thoughts of everyone are still focused on the horrific event that occurred last time out at Suzuka.
Marussia’s Jules Bianchi remains in hospital following his collision with a recovery vehicle that was attending the Sauber of Adrian Sutil. Bianchi lost control of his Marussia and collided with horrific consequence. The Frenchman suffered a diffuse axonal injury. Bianchi remains in a critical condition and remains in a stable yet critical condition.
The race was stopped on lap 47 with Lewis Hamilton being declared the winner for the first time around the Suzuka Circuit. The win meant that the Brit extended his championship lead after beating teammate Nico Rosberg in the rain in Japan. Hamilton is looking for his fourth consecutive win this weekend as he starts his final push towards the championship.
Mercedes could wrap up the constructors championship this weekend with a one two finish, however that depends on the form of the Red Bull. This weekend could throw a curveball in this already thrilling season, at a track that no driver has driven on yet, first practice tomorrow morning will be a very busy session with all the drivers eager to get to grips with a new circuit.
All eyes will once again be on both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. It was announced last weekend that Sebastian Vettel will be leaving Red Bull at the end of this season with his destination looking to be Ferrari.
For Fernando Alonso this could be the weekend that we finally find out what his future holds. All we know is for certain is that he will not be driving for the Italian outfit after 2014, but is a return to McLaren really on the cards? And if that is then where does that leave Jenson Button? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Daniil Kvyat will be a popular man this weekend. The teenager is the only Russian on the grid and will have ample support all weekend. The past week has been rather kind to Kvyat, last weekend it was announced that he would be promoted to the senior Red Bull team alongside Daniel Ricciardo for next season. Kvyat will be desperate to impress.
New track, same battle
The fight behind the Mercedes and Red Bull should be closer this weekend it may come down to who can master the 3.6 mile circuit quickest. Williams will be looking to maintain their gap to Ferrari in the battle for third place, behind that battle Force India are just one point ahead of McLaren in a fight that will go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.
This brand new circuit is built around the Sochi Olympic Park. The track features a combination of fast and slow sections with an average speed around the track to be around 215 km/h, Pirelli this weekend will supply the medium tyre (prime) and the soft tyre (option).
Thankfully for the teams there will be no repeat of the monsoon conditions that we saw last time out in Japan, the forecast predicts a warm and sunny weekend which is ideal for learning a tricky new circuit.
The FIA have introduced two DRS zones with the first zone between the long run between Turns 1 and 2 with the second activation point located between Turns 10 and 12.
With the walls being so close to the track in Russia a safety car is all but certain and could throw up a surprise winner. Whilst we watch the cars pound around this new venue this weekend, our thoughts will be with Jules Bianchi.
What do you think? What are your predictions? Have your say in the comments section below.