Rain leaves tyre strategy open for 2021 Russian GP

In one of the most mixed up F1 grids in years, here are some of the possible strategies and subplots for the 2021 Russian Grand Prix

-

A damp qualifying session for the 2021 Russian Grand Prix threw up a host of surprises with McLaren’s Lando Norris claiming his first pole position in Formula 1 as title protagonist Lewis Hamilton bumped the wall on the entry to the pit lane, meaning the seven-time world champion will only start in fourth after enduring a compromised session.

Sandwiched in between Norris and Hamilton are Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Hamilton’s future teammate George Russell, who continued his good form for Williams. Red Bull meanwhile were braced for a difficult weekend as Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen elected to start the race from the back of the grid after an engine change, while Sergio Perez could only manage eighth.

Given the mixed nature of the starting order, the race could prove to be a classic with the all-important tyre strategy set to play a crucial role as the race progresses.

What do Pirelli say?

Assuming it is dry, the Italian tyre manufacturer predicts a one-stop strategy for the 53 lap race. Given the rain-affected qualifying session, the drivers now have a free choice of tyre to start the race on. Pirelli says the Medium C4 to Hard C3 will most likely be the strategy of choice for the majority of the runners as it will allow for the greatest amount of flexibility especially when factoring in anomalies such as a Safety Car.

Another option is to start the race on the Soft C5 tyre and switch to the Hard C3 tyre, while the least likely option would be to run the softs and the mediums.

“Tomorrow’s conditions look set to be dry, meaning that teams will have to rely on the data accumulated on Friday, with one session less of running compared to usual,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing.

“All drivers will have a free choice of tyres at the start, which means that they should be able to run the optimal one-stop strategy. With some fast drivers starting from the back, who might try something different, plus a slightly different top three on the grid, it should be a very intriguing race.”

Verstappen charge through the field

With a new power unit, Verstappen looks well placed to scythe his way through the field. The Dutchman has never been shy of going wheel to wheel with a competitor and given his penchant for overtaking, it would surprise no one if the Red Bull driver had an interesting start to the race with several of the cars in front of him considerably slower than his RB16B.

Mercedes strategy

With Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas not having the most productive qualifying session, the onus will be on Mercedes to help their drivers make the most out of the situation by executing a well-timed strategy. The Brackley-based outfit has pulled off its fair share of masterclasses over the years and they will be relying on their wealth of experience to help both their drivers move up the order.

The battle of F1’s legends

A McLaren, Ferrari and Williams will start from first, second and third respectively for the 2021 Russian Grand Prix.

After claiming a win in Italy, the Woking-based team will be optimistic about securing back to back wins, even if their ambition ultimately proves to be unrealistic.

The start will as always be crucial and with Sainz starting on P2, Norris will have to be wary about the possibility of his former teammate leapfrogging him during the early exchanges.

Russell meanwhile will be hoping he can claim his second podium in four races, though despite making significant improvements, the Williams car still lacks the raw speed of those around it.

With so many intriguing subplots dominating the start of the race, the 2021 Russian GP looks well placed to become a classic, though whether the on track can deliver on that promise will be left to the racing gods to decide.

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

Charles Leclerc Monaco GP record: Ferrari star out to banish seven-year curse

0
After growing up in Monaco, Charles Leclerc must know the streets of Monte Carlo like the back of his...
Joey Logano leads the field at the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway | NASCAR

Was the NASCAR All-Star Race’s option tyre a success?

0
The NASCAR All-Star Race is often used as a testing ground for concepts that might be incorporated into points...
McLaren F1 launch bespoke Senna livery for the 2024 Monaco GP | McLaren

McLaren unveil stunning Senna tribute livery for 2024 Monaco GP

0
McLaren have announced a special Ayrton Senna-inspired livery for the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, celebrating the legendary...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Australian GP | Mercedes / Sulay Kelly

Race to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes down to two candidates

0
As Lewis Hamilton prepares to leave Mercedes for Ferrari ahead of the 2025 Formula 1 season, there has been...
Ollie Bearman with his new helmet ahead of his practice outing in Imola for Haas

Haas boss outlines how Oliver Bearman can secure 2025 F1 seat after Imola audition

0
Oliver Bearman has been hailed for his faultless performance by Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu in practice at the...

Esteban Ocon tempted by Mercedes 2025 switch as Alpine doubts emerge

0
Esteban Ocon has opened the door to replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, as the Alpine driver ponders his future...
Toto Wolff at 2023 United States Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sebastian Kawka

Toto Wolff ‘can’t wait’ to prove Horner wrong after latest Mercedes jibe

0
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has fired back at Christian Horner for suggesting over 200 employees left Mercedes for Red...
Race winner Max Verstappen and runner-up Lando Norris of McLaren celebrate on the podium after the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Winners and Losers from 2024 Emilia Romagna GP

0
Lando Norris' miraculous late-race pace brought a previously lacklustre 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to life as the McLaren...
Max Verstappen leads Lando Norris of McLaren at the start of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Emilia Romagna GP 2024

0
Max Verstappen returned to the top of the podium after seeing off a late challenge from Lando Norris to...
Scott McLaughlin at 2024 Indy 500 Pole Day | Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

Scott McLaughlin secures pole for Indy 500, as Team Penske sweep front row

0
Scott McLaughlin clinched the P1 Award in IndyCar's Fast Six qualifying for the 108th Indy 500, leading Team Penske...
- Advertisment -