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Vettel arrives leader in Sochi, where a new counterattack from Hamilton is expected

Vettel arrives leader in Sochi, where a new counterattack from Hamilton is expected
The German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), who, after scoring the inaugural test in Australia, achieved another victory in Bahrain, will enter the Olympic Sochi, host of the Russian Grand Prix, in which a new counterattack from the English is expected Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes); winner in China and second in the Formula One World Championship, seven points behind the German.
In just three races, Vettel – who led Red Bull’s glorious journey, with four titles between 2010 and 2013 – has confirmed Ferrari as an alternative to the brutal dominance exercised by Mercedes for three years, the team for which Hamilton achieved, in 2014 and 2015, the two crowns that he joined to that of 2008 – with McLaren – to become triple world champion.
Except for surprise, in the Russian Grand Prix -which will be held in Adler, on the shores of the Black Sea, on the circuit built within the Olympic ring of the last winter Games, in 2014; and which will also be one of the venues for the soccer World Cup, next year – a new duel is planned between the two most successful pilots in action.
On a track of 5,848 meters, with two DRS zones -before the second and the thirteenth of its eighteen curves-, which is scheduled to go 53 laps on Sunday, to cover 311 kilometers.
In the one that will be run for the fourth time and in which only Mercedes has won: Hamilton achieved two of his 54 victories in the premier class of the motoring in 2014 and the following year; and German Nico Rosberg did it last season, in which he celebrated the world title just five days before announcing his retirement from F1.
The Sochi circuit is the third longest circuit in the World Championship, in a town practically close to Georgia and where it will be rolled -with ultra-soft compound tires (recognizable by the purple stripe), super-soft (red) and soft (yellow) – a starting this Friday, when training starts.
The free tests will be completed on the Saturday before qualifying, which will order the starting grid of the Sunday race. With a view to which the Spanish Fernando Alonso (McLaren-Honda) considers that “it would be a success to destroy both cars”, referring to his and that of his Belgian partner Stoffel Vandoorne.
In another campaign that – after three tests – is expected to be sad for the Woking team, the Asturian double world champion (2005 and 2006, with Renault) arrives in Russia after his first contact, in Alabama (United States), with the ‘Indy Formula’. That will be effective one hundred percent the last weekend in May, in which Fernando will compete in the Indianapolis 500.
Alonso, 35 years old and with 32 victories in the premier motor category, including two in the Monaco Grand Prix -incidentally the one that will be skipped this year-, surprised before the last one, that of China, by announcing that he will compete in the Mythical Indiana oval, pointing to the ‘Triple Crown’. Which also includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France), which he intends to contest in the future.
Aspiration that implicitly indicates that a third world title will not arrive, at least this year. In which the Spaniard has two retirements and a fourteenth place.
Vettel, who leads with 68 points, seven more than Hamilton and with thirty already on the replacement of Rosberg in Mercedes, the Finn Valtteri Bottas – third, with four more than his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) – will look for his triumph 45 in F1. That it would be the first in Russia. Where two years ago, in the campaign of his debut, the Spanish Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) starred in the great scare, by crashing spectacularly in free trials. Fortunately, without major consequences.
The talented Madrid driver – son of the double world rally champion of the same name – who was eighth in Australia and seventh in Bahrain, before retiring in Shanghai, is ninth in the World Championship, with ten points. And he will look to score again in Sochi, where he will face a three-place grid penalty, due to the incident with Canadian rookie Lance Stroll (Williams) in China.
Sainz, 22, has four points less than the Mexican Sergio Pérez (Force India), 27, who is ninth in the contest; and that, with two sevenths and one ninth, he will seek to score again on the track where in 2015 he achieved the fifth of his seven podiums in Formula One. EFE
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