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Russian F1 Grand Prix 2016: Start Time, Drivers, TV Schedule and More

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2016

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 29: Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Nico Rosberg will look to continue his incredible start to the 2016 Formula One season with a fourth straight win, while Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton hopes to keep his perfect run at the Russian Grand Prix alive.

Only two Formula One races have been held at the Sochi Autodrom, and the reigning world champion won both of those contests. He’s yet to get the better of Rosberg in 2016, however.

The German has now won six straight races dating back to last season and is the clear favourite to win this year’s title. If Hamilton is to catch Rosberg, Sochi would be a good place to start.

Here’s a look at the list of drivers for the Russian Grand Prix:

Russian GP Drivers' List
TeamDriver 1Driver 2
Scuderia FerrariSebastian VettelKimi Raikkonen
Sahara Force India Formula One TeamSergio PerezNico Hulkenberg
Haas F1 TeamRomain GrosjeanEsteban Gutierrez
McLaren Honda Formula 1 TeamFernando AlonsoJenson Button
Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One TeamLewis HamiltonNico Rosberg
Manor Racing MRTRio HaryantoPascal Wehrlein
Red Bull RacingDaniel RicciardoDaniil Kvyat
Renault Sport Formula One TeamKevin MagnussenJolyon Palmer
Sauber F1 TeamMarcus EricssonFelipe Nasr
Scuderia Toro RossoMax VerstappenCarlos Sainz Jr.
Williams Martini RacingFelipe MassaValtteri Bottas
Formula1.com

Sky Sports will carry full coverage of the race for UK viewers, while American viewers will be able to tune in to CNBC. Sky’s broadcast will start at 11:30 a.m. BST on Sunday, while CNBC’s broadcast starts at 7 a.m. ET. The race will start at 12 p.m. BST/7 a.m. ET.

Preview

Mercedes’ dominance has predictably carried over into the 2016 season, and with Ferrari stumbling out of the starting blocks, the Silver Arrows are expected to once again steal the show in Russia.

To make matters worse for the Scuderia, Sebastian Vettel was handed a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, per William Esler and James Galloway of Sky Sports. The gearbox was damaged during Vettel’s collision with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen during the Chinese Grand Prix.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 29: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H Ferrari 059/5 turbo (Shell GP) on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by
Clive Mason/Getty Images

According to the report, Hamilton also had a new gearbox fitted, but because he already had his replaced in China, he will not suffer a similar penalty.

That’s good news for the Brit, who is in desperate need for a positive result and can’t afford to start another race weekend on the back foot. Sochi’s Autodrom is a street circuit, and while it’s not as narrow as similar tracks, it doesn’t provide as many opportunities to overtake opponents as traditional circuits do.

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg steers his car during the second practice session of the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom circuit on April 29, 2016.  / AFP / YURI KADOBNOV        (Photo credit should read YUR
YURI KADOBNOV/Getty Images

That makes the qualifying sessions vital, and Rosberg seems primed to do well in qualification, topping the timesheets during the first practice session, per BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson.

Hamilton dominated the second session, going almost a full second faster on the supersofts, per Sky Sports’ Matthew Morlidge.

Hamilton spun out in that session, and he told Sky Sports’ William Esler he hopes there won’t be too many similar incidents this weekend:

There are loads of things that can come in the way. I am hoping for a clean weekend, we will see.

[…] Normally we do two runs, one on each tyre, but I destroyed one set with a spin so I had just the one run at the end. But it went well, seemed to be quite smooth and we seemed to have good pace.

Rosberg already leads Hamilton by 36 points in the standings, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo three points behind the Brit, and he has to do better than his team-mate in Russia to grab some much-needed momentum.

Mercedes’ advantage in raw engine power will be somewhat negated by the twisty circuit in Sochi, so other teams will come into play as well.

Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo sits in his car during the first practice session of the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom circuit on April 29, 2016.  / AFP / ALEXANDER NEMENOV        (Photo credit should read ALEXA
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/Getty Images

These are the kinds of races where the likes of Red Bull and Williams can shine and perhaps spring an upset, and if one of the Mercedes drivers gets caught behind a slower car, he could end up losing a lot of time.

A good qualification session and a strong start are key, and, fortunately for Hamilton, those are areas he excels in. The Brit has won both races in Sochi for a reason, but Rosberg’s strong form means he won’t have it easy this time around.

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