And welcome to our live coverage of practice for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Things kick off with first practice in a little under an hour with second practice later on in the day. The time difference between central Europe and the more easterly Black Sea location of Sochi means we get things done and dusted an extra couple of hours earlier this weekend.
What is to be done and dusted in the first place? Well, judging by the entire season so far it will surely be a) Mercedes bossing first and second practice, b) Mercedes bossing qualifying with Lewis Hamilton beating Valtteri Bottas to his 725th pole position of his career (he has a lot…) and then, perhaps, something a little bit more interesting happening in the race where Hamilton ends up extending his championship lead, even if he has an awful race.
Sorry, it has been one of those seasons, hasn’t it? Still, the greatest narrative this year and this race is of Hamilton matching Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record 91 Grand Prix wins and equalling his seven titles. The former looks likely happening this weekend and what a landmark it would be. The latter will come about in due course.
That is all giving this race some extra context. 91 seemed like an un-passable total when it was set – given how far ahead he was of the next best driver – but, really, Hamilton’s imminent record-equalling feat will be achieved in the same manner as Schumacher. Get the quickest driver, who makes few mistakes, into the one of the sport’s most dominant ever teams and the glory will follow. Not a difficult equation but you still have to beat what’s in front of you…
As ever, I’ll be here for the two practice sessions today, with all the live updates and news around the F1 paddock this weekend. And a bit of performance analysis, of course.