MotorSportsTalk Predictions: Russian Grand Prix

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The 2015 Formula 1 season is slowly nearing its conclusion with just five races remaining, and this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix could see the first silverware of the year be decided.

Mercedes is within touching distance of a second constructors’ championship, knowing that if it outscores Ferrari by just three points in Sochi, the title will be sewn up in Sochi for a second consecutive year.

Lewis Hamilton is also continuing his march to the drivers’ title, and knows that victory in Russia will give him the chance to be crowned a three-time champion next time out in Austin or – more realistically – Mexico.

Ferrari will be hoping to delay the party for as long as possible, though. The tire allocation for this weekend’s race at the Sochi Autodrom – super-soft and soft – does appear to favor the Italian marque, setting up a great battle at the front of the field.

Here’s what the MST writing team had to say ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, which is live across NBCSN and Live Extra. For full broadcast details, click here.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerSebastian Vettel. I’m going to be a bit different and tip Vettel to put the softer tire allocation to good use at Sochi and win a fourth race of the year. Ferrari’s recent engine updates appear to finally be coming good, and, most importantly, a fourth win would force team principal Maurizio Arrivabene to make good on his pre-season promise that he would run barefoot up the hill to Maranello – and who doesn’t want to see that?

Surprising FinishFelipe Massa. Williams’ recent form hasn’t been overly impressive, but I reckon Massa and teammate Valtteri Bottas could buck the trend here in Russia.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. 48 points behind, and defeat to Hamilton here would give the Briton the chance to wrap it up four races early at the United States Grand Prix. It’s time for Rosberg to show a bit of fight.

Additional Storyline to WatchYear two for Sochi. Last year’s race was something of a drab affair both on and off track. The facility in Sochi is very shiny and brand new, albeit a little lifeless. Let’s see how things develop this time around.

Predict the Podium

1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Peerless here last year and back on form at Suzuka a couple weeks ago. He’ll move closer to the title with another triumph this weekend.

Surprising FinishFelipe Massa. I’ll say the Brazilian bounces back from his debacle here last year where he was bounced in Q1 and missed the points to a podium finish this weekend. The Mercedes-powered cars should be strong and I like Felipe to capitalize.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. With fading title hopes and after his faux pas last year on the start, must perform in both qualifying and the race if he is to have any hope of snatching the title from his teammate.

Additional Storyline to WatchSochi, year two. The debut last year of the race felt a bit muted anyway given it was a week on from Suzuka and the emotional overhead of Jules Bianchi’s accident was first and foremost. The race debut came during an Olympics year, as well, so it wasn’t even the biggest storyline in Sochi during 2014. In year two, will the race be any more interesting? Will the interest in the race from the locals carry much weight?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams