Key things to look for at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix

The Formula One circus heads to Russia for just the second time, and with plenty of ongoing developments off the track, it’s about time the sport had some action on it following a somewhat routine event in Japan.

The all-conquering Mercedes team secured the constructor’s title last year at the Sochi venue and they’re well poised to do so again 12 months later.

Here are a few things to look out for this weekend…

A Mercedes at the front

Lewis Hamilton took pole and the win in Sochi last year, while Nico Rosberg made up for a first-corner error by cruising through the field to claim second after an early pitstop.

Hamilton dominated last time out in Japan too, while again after a poor start, Rosberg came through to complete Mercedes’ eighth 1-2 finish of the season.

Hamilton is 8/15 to pick up a ninth win of the year, but with a 48-point deficit to make up, Rosberg knows he’s quickly running out of time to win this year’s title and may be worth backing at 5/2.

A Singapore repeat?

After being castigated for bringing tyres that were too conservative last year, Pirelli are providing the softest compounds for this weekend’s race.

The last time the soft and supersoft tyres were chosen, Mercedes were completely off the pace in Singapore as Sebastian Vettel won.

The Silver Arrows should still set the pace, but if they do struggle and you’re looking for an outsider, then Ferrari man Vettel at 8/1 is the man to back. The Scuderia’s Kimi Raikkonen at 25/1 could be worth an each-way punt.

Bottas to feature

Williams driver Valterri Bottas hasn’t quite enjoyed the success of last season, with just one podium this year to 2014’s six, but the Finn and his Williams FW37 could well be a force this weekend.

Bottas almost snatched pole position in Sochi a year ago, something he is 33/1 to do this Saturday, with team-mate Felipe Massa at 50/1.

Beating Mercedes over a race distance would take some doing – Bottas is 33/1 to win the race –  but a podium finish at 7/2 could keep your Sunday afternoon interesting beyond the first few laps.

A safer bet may be Bottas for a top six placing at 2/7, though team-mate Massa is slightly better priced at 2/5 due to penchant for incidents on a Sunday.

Retirements are dead

Every driver was classified in Japan last time out, and the 5/6 on over 16.5 finishers this weekend with Ladbrokes would have paid out in four of the last five grand prix.

Should McLaren reach the flag and Pastor Maldonado stays out of trouble, then this looks excellent value at near evens.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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