Marus­sia re­groups for Rus­sian GP after Bianchi crash

CityPress - - Sport - MICHELLE FOSTER sports@city­press.co.za His­tory awaits For­mula 1 to­day as the driv­ers race across un­charted as­phalt, vy­ing to win the Rus­sian Grand Prix.

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

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

PHOTO: SHUJI KAJIYAMA / AP PHOTO

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