Marussia regroups for Russian GP after Bianchi crash
As F1 struggles to come to terms with the horrific injuries inflicted on Jules Bianchi when he crashed into a recovery vehicle at Suzuka last Sunday, the shine of having a new toy to play with has been somewhat dulled.
The Frenchman remains in a critical condition in the Mei General Hospital, having suffered a diffuse axonal injury, the most common brain trauma for people involved in automobile accidents.
And as accusations and recriminations begin to flow, his fellow drivers – on-track rivals but off-track friends – will line up on the grid at the new Sochi Autodrom with heavy hearts, all very much aware that there is more at stake than just 25 points.
But the cold reality is that the wheels of F1 will continue to roll – and they roll into Russia this weekend.
The Sochi Autodromo, built around the Sochi Olympic Park on the Black Sea coast, presents a fresh and completely different challenge, but most are expecting the same outcome we have had in many of this year’s preceeding races.
The track, which features 18 corners and 1.7km of public roads, will play into the hands of Mercedes’ W05 as, it would seem, does every circuit on this year’s calendar.
With cars nudging 320km/h down the long straight that incorporates a right kink at turn one, the Mercedes power unit will come to the fore, although a twisty and technical final sector will suit Red Bull’s RB10.
The street-circuit feel of the track could bring the midfield of Ferrari, McLaren and Force India into the mix, while two DRS zones should increase the possibility of overtaking, meaning qualifying won’t be as important as it is at some street-track designs.
As the fourth last Grand Prix on the calendar, everyone will be looking to make up ground and bag as many points as possible, no more so than at Mercedes.
With back-to-back wins handing Lewis Hamilton a 10point advantage over his team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Championship battle, there is still everything to play for.
Hamilton will be looking to again put some distance between himself and the German, while Rosberg will be out to prove Hamilton’s superior pace in Japan was only due to the weather and is not a sign of things to come.
But as they get down to business, it will all be tempered by thoughts of Bianchi and a fight that puts a title race into perspective.
– TEAMtalk Media
NECK AND NECK Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (front) and team-mate Lewis Hamilton of Britain compete during the Japanese Grand Prix last Sunday TRAGEDY Marussia’s Jules Bianchi of France receives urgent medical treatment after crashing during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit last Sunday