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Russian Grand Prix Betting: Fear Ferrari as Mercedes slip to second-best

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel got back to winning ways in Singapore in a dominant Ferrari
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Mercedes will lift the trophy but Ferrari have started landing some body blows that have got James Gray waving his red flag again...

"It was once unthinkable but even Lewis Hamilton has admitted Ferrari are too fast in a straight line for him to catch them"

On present pace, it will take Mercedes another three races to seal their sixth consecutive F1 World Constructors' Championship, equally the record held by the great Ferrari team led by Michael Schumacher. It will be a remarkable achievement, perhaps even more than any single driver such as Lewis Hamilton, because while the man behind the wheel can be told 'you should win, you've got the fastest car', there is no such recourse for critics of the car. Mercedes are a mighty team, whose repeated success is a testament to their own internal drive.

They will more than likely lift both trophies at the end of the season - Hamilton is 100/1-on favourite to move within one title of Schumacher - but they will do so in the curious circumstance of having the second-fastest car on the grid as confirmed in Singapore, barring yet another shift of momentum in this season.

Ferrari have Mercedes running scared

Many times this season on a Friday morning have I extolled the virtues of a certain track's characteristics and its suitability to one team or another. I've even been right 72 hours later on occasion. But there is now one type of track that suits Ferrari best: an F1 circuit.

In Belgium, Italy and Singapore, you could not find three more different challenges and Ferrari have met each of them with a setup that has carried Charles Leclerc (twice) and Sebastian Vettel to the chequered flag. The latest win, on the tricky twists of Singapore, left even Hamilton worried.

"Clearly their car works really well everywhere now so it's going to be very hard to beat them," he said.

"They're so quick on the straights. We can't compete with them on the straights at the moment."

It is almost unthinkable. Straight-line speed used to such a strong suit for Mercedes that they would turn their engine down just to make the races competitive. (Alright, probably to save some reliability but still, they were quick.) Now their main man is admitting that their power unit cannot compete.

They may be a relatively short price to win the race but I'm still backing Ferrari at 8/11 to saddle the winning driver in Russia this weekend.

Wolff's reverse-engineering?

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is in a position he is not used to, having failed to win three times in a row. In fact, he has not seen one of his drivers on the top step of the podium for nearly two months. It must start to rankle.

What is particularly interesting is that he highlighted in his pre-Russia media comments that Ferrari's strategy was maximised by their one-lap pace on Saturday: he seemed to suggest that taking pole had allowed them to game Mercedes within the race and achieve their first 1-2 in more than two years.

Wolff's comments seemed to hint that Mercedes, in the knowledge that the proliferation of slow and medium-speed corners at Sochi should suit them and also make overtaking tricky, will prioritise qualifying pace and worry about the race later.

Valtteri Bottas has as many poles as his team-mate this season (four) and he knows the Sochi track inside out, having finished third and fourth there with Williams and secured his first ever Grand Prix victory in Russia back in 2017. I'm right behind Bottas at 13/2 to have everyone else behind him and take pole in qualifying on Saturday.

Gasly's revenge

Consistently outdriven by his team-mate Max Verstappen and the rest of the top six, Pierre Gasly was dropped back whence he came in the most predictable driver change of the season. The Frenchman's racing pedigree could not save him from the gallows, but it has helped resurrect his reputation back at Toro Rosso with two points finishes in three races.

He will suffer a grid penalty after Honda decided to change all four of their engines ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, which probably explains his price of better than 2/1 to finish in the points - but I've always been something of a Gasly apologist and I am both happy and confident in backing him to achieve another top-10 finish at 9/4.

James Gray,

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