Mercedes' Russian GP winning run on the line amid Ferrari revival
Are Ferrari in the form to challenge Mercedes' unbeaten Sochi record with a fourth win in succession? Rivals on the Russia battle ahead this weekend after F1's Singapore surprise...
By James Galloway in Sochi
Last Updated: 26/09/19 3:01pm
Mercedes are eager to recommence the "fierce battle" with Ferrari and Red Bull at this weekend’s Russian GP as they bid to get back to winning ways.
Ferrari head to Sochi as F1's form team after winning all three races since the summer break, with their one-two in Singapore proving a particular surprise last weekend.
After finishing fourth and fifth at Marina Bay, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted "we are all angry" as "we got it so wrong this weekend" - but the world championship leaders say they are spurred on to bounce back.
"Straight after the race, we started to analyse what went wrong in Singapore and we will use those lessons to learn and improve," said Wolff. "These difficult days are the ones that make us stronger: this team has shown time and again that it can turn weaknesses into strengths. And we will do so again, here.
"However, that shouldn't take anything away from the strength of our opposition, either. The last seven races have shown us that we are in the midst of a fierce battle - and we need to be at our best in every area to claim the top step of the podium."
Mercedes have only qualified on pole twice in those last seven events, and at none of the last four, either side of F1's August break.
Underlining the stunning sustained success they have enjoyed, Singapore was just the second time since the current V6 turbo engines were introduced in 2014 that Mercedes have been beaten on three consecutive race days.
The last time they went four or more without winning was at the end of 2013, when Red Bull were the sport's dominant force.
💬 “It’s on each one of us to do a better job. I believe we’re the best team, but we’ve got to push on.— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) September 22, 2019
“We’ll debrief tonight, put our heads back in the scrum, and then come back fighting at the next race.” - @LewisHamilton 💪 pic.twitter.com/T3VX9xyWgp
Can Ferrari continue their run in Sochi?
Having impressively rebounded from a disappointing opening half of 2019 to claim a hat-trick of victories for the first time in 11 years, Ferrari will attempt to continue their revival on a circuit that has proved a Mercedes stronghold since it joined the calendar.
Mercedes have won all five of the races at the Sochi Autodrom, with the circuit's varying corner speeds, smooth surface and straights having previously played to the Silver Arrows' strengths.
"If I look at the first half of the season there were races we could have won and were performing well so there's no reason why we cannot do it in the next races," said Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto.
"The car has improved, so there are eventually even more races where it can be fast. But I'm pretty sure our competitors will be very strong in some circuits and sometimes it will be their turn [to win]."
Meanwhile, both Ferrari and Mercedes have played down suggestions that the Scuderia's Singapore upgrade alone had transformed their car last weekend for high downforce conditions.
"The resurgence of Ferrari in Singapore is not linked to any upgrades. That's the easy story that is told," said Wolff. "I think it is about having a strong package overall and getting things right. They tuned the car for one lap, which was powerful, and you could see they were nowhere in race pace, but very quick from the get-go."
And Binotto himself said: "The aero upgrades have been a step forward, but that cannot explain all what we have seen. Singapore is still a very specific circuit, the walls - the drivers make the difference - and the car balance has improved since the last race.
"The tyres as well, it was a different type of compound compared to the normal races and we probably made them work properly."