Russian Grand Prix race preview | In The Pit Lane with Crofty

Sky F1's Crofty brings us the latest exclusive Formula 1 race preview ahead of the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

Russian Grand Prix

The F1 2020 calendar has headed east to Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix in this most bizarre season, with plenty of action left to come.

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We chatted exclusively to Sky F1 favourite David Croft for our weekly In The Pit Lane feature, assessing the big storylines leading up to the race.

Crofty discusses Lewis Hamilton aiming for Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix wins, a relieved Alex Albon after claiming his first podium, and why Racing Point have plenty to be cheerful about going into the weekend.

Check out what the Sky Sports F1 man has to say below.

Lewis Hamilton, simply the best

DC: It’s an astounding achievement. His domination over the last six seasons has been absolutely immense and he’s shown no signs of slowing down or getting worse, in many respects he’s probably getting better.

He’s in the best car, and has been in the best car, but the challenge that has been thrown down from his teammates, Ferrari last year and Red Bull, he’s overcome each and every challenge and continues to excel.

His influence goes way beyond Formula 1. I said to him, ‘There’s 7.8 billion people on the planet and according to Time magazine you’re one of the 100 most influential,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, when you put it like that…’

He is a man that wears his heart on his sleeve and speaks his mind. He’s passionate on various topics. His team have allowed him to find that voice and demanded that he repays that with success on the track.

With Mercedes and Lewis, there’s a perfect working relationship where they allow him to be him, and then he afford them the chance to celebrate win after win after win. He’s found a team in Mercedes that perform and excel at the highest level and allow him to do the same thing as well.

He is the greatest driver of this generation, one of the greatest drivers of all time in Formula 1 and without doubt will end up statistically the best of them all.

Alex Albon aiming for consistency

DC: What I hope we see from Alex in the second half of this year is an improvement on Saturdays. He acknowledges he needs to improve on a Saturday to give him a better chance of improving on a Sunday.

What we saw at Mugello, he was able to run with the leading pack and pulled off a couple of really good moves in the race, on Ricciardo and on Perez as well to get into that podium place.

I saw him the day after and there was a palpable relief on his face that he’d finally achieved it. Alex goes about his business in his way, very much doesn’t read the criticism, he’s able to put it to the back of his mind.

We compare him to Max and if he falls short, it looks horrendous for him, but he is a more than capable driver. I hope we see him not tense up, not tighten up, continue to pull of great moves and get more podiums because he is one of the nicest guys on the grid.

One podium does not make a driver great, he knows you’re only as good as your last race and he knows he’s got to perform to that standard every week.

The midfield mess

DC: They have got a strong car, but I was chatting to Andreas Seidl on the pit wall and he was saying: ‘Yeah, but Racing Point have a better car. They’ve got massive upgrades on Stroll’s car again, Renault have a very strong car, so we can’t afford to take our foot off the gas.’

It’s so tight between those three teams.

To be honest, Racing Point, if they can deliver the six tenths improvement in pace that they say they can, they should be on the podium this week.

Lance Stroll, before the crash that wasn’t his fault, it looked like those upgrades really were working.

The (less than ideal) track

DC: It’s not a great track here. It’s not easy to overtake, the straights are curved, the braking zones aren’t long enough.

There are lots of samey corners that the drivers have to negotiate, concrete walls either side really.

But I hope, there are hotter conditions and softer tyres here, that it gives the teams a few things to worry about.

How to watch the Russian Grand Prix

The race starts at 12:10pm on Sunday 27th September live on Sky Sports F1.

For full TV details as well as timings of practice, qualifying and the race itself, check out our comprehensive guide to the Russian Grand Prix.

For the full breakdown of F1 races coming up check out our F1 2020 calendar guide.

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If you’re looking for something else to watch check out our TV guide.