Carlos Sainz Jr is hopeful of being cleared to race on Sunday despite his terrifying crash in the third practice on Saturday morning. It was a huge, high speed accident that left his Toro Rosso wedged under the barrier at the Sochi circuit, and it took longer than it should have done for the marshall team to come to his aid. Coming only just over a year after the awful accident that, ultimately, took the life of Jules Bianchi, the whole paddock had their hearts in their mouths waiting to see what had happened.
Very fortunately, Sainz emerged conscious and unscathed from the high speed smash. He is close to being medically cleared to race despite such a violent impact, and we're enormously grateful that he was so lucky. Any injury or death in Formula One is a tragedy, and to have two in two seasons after such a long time without any would lead us to wonder what was going on with the safety standards of the sport.
Nonetheless, the second Russian Grand Prix will go ahead with Sainz or without him, and for the second race in a row it is Nico Rosberg who will start from pole. A series of interruptions to the free practice sessions meant no driver had much chance to set up their car - oddly enough it was Sainz who got in the most laps in total - and Lewis Hamilton did not look to quite have the pace of his teammate in qualifying.
This sets up an interesting race ahead. The Sochi track is not particularly thrilling, but if Hamilton is fighting his car a little then we could be in for an entertaining race. Last year the race began with Rosberg attempting to defend his pole position at turn two right after the start, which failed dramatically when he braked far too late and absolutely wrecked his tyres. This time round it is once again Lewis Hamilton who finds himself in the position of needing to overtake his teammate on a track that doesn't especially lend itself to overtaking.
He's no slouch at racing with Rosberg though, and we can't think of a single wheel to wheel moment that he hasn't come out on top of. The best place to back Hamilton for the race win is at BoyleSports, who are offering a decent 10/11.
That said, Rosberg definitely seems to have got more out of his car in the limited running they have had available. It's been a while since he took a race win, and we think this technical circuit might be his chance to get back to the top of the podium. The best place to back him is PaddyPower, at a very reasonable 11/8.
Finally, Felipe Massa had a dire time of it in qualifying, but he's a feisty overtaker and his Mercedes powered car should show well in the race. Despite his lowly starting place of fourteenth we think it's worth a punt on him to finish in the top six. The best place to back that is over at Coral, who have priced it at a tempting 3/1.