Following the reaction to the controversial crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the Italian GP last time out, with both F1 world title contenders taken out of the race in the incident, the Red Bull driver heads into this weekend with a three-place grid penalty after being judged as predominately at fault for the clash.
The incident ensured Daniel Ricciardo grabbed victory for McLaren at Monza, his first F1 win since the 2018 Monaco GP and McLaren’s first victory since Brazil 2012, as the Australian also led the first 1-2 finish for the team since Canada 2010 with Lando Norris taking the runner-up spot.
Fallout from the Verstappen and Hamilton collision is likely to dominant the focus at the start of the Russian GP weekend, while Mercedes heads to a happy hunting ground looking to extend its undefeated record at the Russian GP.
Since the race joined the F1 calendar back in 2014, Mercedes has won every Russian GP with Hamilton taking four wins (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019), Valtteri Bottas securing two victories (2017 and 2020) and Nico Rosberg claiming the one win (2016).
Away from the fight at the front, Aston Martin has been busy in the build-up to the Russian GP as it officially confirmed it will retain both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll as its driver line-up for 2022, started construction on its new F1 factory and facilities and announced former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh will become its new group chief executive officer of Aston Martin Performance Technologies.
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
2021 Russian GP session timings
F1 will revert to its regular weekend schedule for the Russian GP, following the second sprint race format at the Italian GP, with two practice sessions on Friday each lasting 60 minutes (rather than the previous 90-minute sessions), before an additional practice session also running for one hour on Saturday.
The Q1, Q2 and Q3 knockout-style qualifying format is also being retained on Saturday afternoon to decide the grid for the Russian GP on Sunday.
F1 has also ditched starting races at 10 minutes past the hour mark for the 2021 season, with all races starting at the top of the hour.
Friday 24th September 2021
Free Practice 1: 09:30am-10:30am BST (11:30am-12:30pm local)
Free Practice 2: 1:00pm-2:00pm BST (3:00pm-4:00pm local)
Saturday 25th September 2021
Free Practice 3: 10:00am-12:00pm BST (12:00pm-1:00pm local)
Qualifying: 1:00pm-2:00pm BST (3:00pm-4:00pm local)
Sunday 26th September 2021
Race: 1:00pm BST (3:00pm local)
How can I watch the Russian GP?
Channel: Sky Sports F1 HD
Channel numbers – Sky: 406
Channel numbers – Virgin Media: 506 (Sky Sports F1 HD)
Sky Sports has live and exclusive broadcasting rights in the United Kingdom, with the build-up to the F1 race starting from 11:30am ahead of lights out at 1:00pm.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W11, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11, Sergio Perez, Racing Point RP20, and the rest of the field at the start
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
When can I watch the Russian GP highlights?
· Channel: Channel 4
· Start time: Saturday qualifying 5:50pm, Sunday race 5:30pm
Channel 4 has the rights to show Russian GP highlights of qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Will the Russian GP be on the radio?
Live radio coverage of every practice, qualifying and race for the 2021 F1 season will be available on the BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra stations or via the BBC Sport website.
Coverage of the Russian GP will start at 1:00pm BST on the BBC Sport website.
Weather forecast for the Russian GP
Sochi is set for mixed weather conditions throughout the race weekend, with a strong chance of rain across the three days of track action. Highs of 19 degrees Celsius are predicted on Sunday – around nine degrees colder than the warmest conditions at the Italian GP.
Most F1 Russian GP wins
Lewis Hamilton: 4 wins (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)
Valtteri Bottas: 2 wins (2017, 2020)