Mercedes can clinch the constructors Championship this weekend, and Lewis Hamilton get closer to a third world championship as the Rssian Grand Prix takes place in Sochi

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Sebastian Vettel to win the Russian Grand Prix at 8/1 each way (1/3 1,2) BetVictor

In the last five races of the 2015 season, Sebastian Vettel has amassed exactly the same number of points (83) as Formula 1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton with two wins, a second and a third place.

For the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi this weekend Lewis Hamilton is 4/7 favourite, Nico Rosberg 11/4 and Sebastian Vettel 8/1.

One of the key issues through the 2015 season has been the tyre compounds used for the various races. It has become evident that the super-soft diminishes Mercedes’ advantage over the field. This was clearest in Singapore where Pirelli brought the soft and super-soft compound tyres to a slow speed, low degradation track. Mercedes were simply not able to get them into the correct operating temperature range as Ferrari and Red Bull managed and were off the pace.

Generally the Mercedes advantage is greater on tracks where the harder Pirelli compounds are used. In Suzuka two weeks ago where the harder compounds were raced, Mercedes was again well clear

Earlier in the season Pirelli brought the super-soft and soft tyres to Monaco, Austria and Canada. In Austria on super-softs the gap to Ferrari was just 0.355s, in Canada it was 0.621s to Raikkonen so if Vettel had not had problems it would have been more like 0.3s and in Monaco it was 0.751s (before the Ferrari got the qualifying modes on the engine).

The betting opportunity for this race is that the same super-soft and soft tyre choice will be in Sochi this weekend. It has been relatively close everywhere this season on those tyres between Mercedes and Ferrari

This week Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ executive director said that “ Pirelli’s decision to bring its super-soft tyres to Sochi this year, as opposed to the medium and soft tyres used in 2014, will introduce an element of uncertainty for the race”.

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has been quoted this week too, fearing his team could suffer a Singapore-style blip in form at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix due to the smooth track surface in Sochi.

Last year the flat, sterile Tilke designed track (part traditional, part street circuit) which races around the winter Olympics site was criticised for being processional, and the fact that Rosberg was able to run almost an entire race distance on a single set of tyres after a very early pit stop underscored the relative ease with which the drivers were lapping.

The nature of the track surface in Sochi led the teams down the one-stop strategy route as the very low roughness in the tarmac meant that everyone had a lot of grip on race day as more rubber was laid down as the weekend progressed. Comments this week suggest that the track conditions have not changed. Furthermore Sochi is humid, and at the margin that suits the Ferrari more than the Mercedes as it reduces the window in which Mercedes can get those super-softs working.

So bringing that all together:
• on recent form Vettel matches Hamilton on points, and has beaten Mercedes twice in the last five races
• The tyres that minimise the Mercedes advantage, and which saw the most recent Vettel win, are being used again this weekend
• Vettel is available at 8/1.

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Sebastian Vettel to win the Russian Grand Prix at 8/1 each way (1/3 1,2) BetVictor