The Mercedes team seem calmer than ever heading to Sochi this weekend with a number of things in their favour as they look to extend their championship lead.
Lewis Hamilton is five points behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, however, the Dutch driver will be enduring a three-place grid penalty carried over from the Italian GP after stewards decided he was at fault for the collision with his closest rival.
The Red Bull team may be subject to a second penalty this weekend – much to the delight of Mercedes – as the team is yet to replace Verstappen’s damaged engine from the past Silverstone crash.
If they do decide to change the engine, he’ll have to take another penalty and start from the back.
“We are limited on the engine side,” team official Dr. Helmut Marko told RTL.
“We have to replace the engine somewhere in the coming races because of the damage to the Silverstone engine.
“We will wait for qualifying, we’ll wait for the weather, and then we’ll make a decision.”
The Silver Arrows will also have plenty of potential for a podium in Valtteri Bottas – the Finnish driver has an outstanding record of results at the Russian circuit.
So far in his career, Bottas has clinched two wins and three podiums at Sochi, so will likely be playing a vital role in pushing the team farther ahead of the charging bulls this weekend.
Ahead of the race, Team Principal Toto Wolff said: “Our aim is to pull together a strong weekend, starting in FP1 and building one session at a time.
“Lewis is in the 10th championship battle of his F1 career, and he is laser-focused on what he needs to deliver in the next eight races.
“As for Valtteri, he’s driving better than ever, as we saw in Monza – and he will be flat out every weekend.
“There’s a calm determination about the team right now and the business end of a season, fighting for championships, is exactly what we enjoy the most.”
Speaking about their plan of action, Wolff said; “We’re looking forward to racing again in Russia, it is a circuit we’ve gone well at over the years and both our drivers have enjoyed great results in Sochi.
“We’re hoping to continue our run of success in Russia but know that this year is an entirely different beast, and we’re expecting another intense weekend.
“The pleasing thing is that the W12 looks competitive and with just eight races to go, now is the time to use our experience and focus on the details and processes which will get us over the line,” he concluded.
Mercedes are currently 18 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship, and while Hamilton is five points behind Verstappen in the driver standings, a potential combination of penalties could ensure a breeze of a weekend for the team.