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Hamilton to equal Schumacher record? Five Russian Grand Prix talking points

Hamilton to equal Schumacher record? Five Russian Grand Prix talking points

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Hamilton to equal Schumacher record? Five Russian Grand Prix talking points

Hamilton to equal Schumacher record? Five Russian Grand Prix talking points

Following a run of nine grands prix over 11 weekends that included three triple-headers, Formula 1 settles into a more 'normal' routine over the next two months.

Due to logistics, this weekend's Russian Grand Prix is a stand-alone event prior to F1 pitching up at the Nürburgring next month for the Eifel Grand Prix, affording all involved more of a respite than has previously been the case.

Following the thrills and spills of the last two races in Italy, it is hard to imagine the Sochi Autodrom serving up a similar kind of spectacle, but we can only hope.

Here, GPFans brings you the likely talking points over the next few days.

The return of fans in numbers

Yes, there were just under 3,000 per day on show for the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello last time out, comprising members of Ferrari clubs on the occasion of the Scuderia's 1,000th grand prix, and also medical and care workers in recognition of their efforts in battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Sochi, however, the organisers have agreed to a limit of 30,000 who must all adhere to certain protocols, including a temperature check upon arrival and the wearing of a face mask at all times, while each fan will be allocated a seat at a suitable social distance from the people around them.

At least there will be no backdrop of empty grandstands, but with fans in attendance, it will add to the burden of everyone in each team to ensure they firmly abide by F1's own rigorous protocols.

Hamilton to equal Schumacher record?

When Michael Schumacher chalked up his 91st victory at the Chinese Grand Prix late in 2006, little did we know then it was to be his last, in particular when he returned to F1 four years later for a three-season spell with Mercedes.

When he did call it a day for the second time, few - if anyone at all - believed it would be one of his many records that would come under serious threat.

But 14 years on from that success at the Shanghai International Circuit, and eight years after he waved his final goodbye to F1, Lewis Hamilton now stands on the brink of equalling Schumacher's feat. And he has won four of the six races at Sochi.

For the record, Schumacher chalked up his 91st win at his 246th grand prix. Should Hamilton take the chequered flag in Russia, it will be in his 260th race, giving the German the slight edge in that regard.

A new CEO. What will the reaction be?

A bolt from the blue this week has been the revelation that Stefano Domenicali is to take over from Chase Carey as F1 CEO at the end of this year.

Domenicali was Ferrari team principal from 2008 to 2014, and most recently has been CEO at Lamborghini, as well as heading up the FIA's Single-Seater Commission.

There will be accusations of Ferrari bias in F1, given another former team principal in Jean Todt is president of the FIA, and F1's managing director motorsports Ross Brawn was once the Scuderia's technical director.

But Domenicali is one of the nicest guys you are likely to meet and is the kind who will undoubtedly play fair with all.

Another Mercedes procession?

Undoubtedly, Mercedes has been thoroughly dominant again this season, so for anyone thinking Russia might throw up a wild card, think again.

Toto Wolff's team has won all six races at the Sochi Autodrom, that includes four one-two finishes, as a circuit that is primarily medium-speed through the first two sectors and low-speed in the final sector has played to the strengths of the car.

As the team has again built a car for all tracks this season, it is hard to envisage such an enviable record being tarnished. Throw in that Hamilton stat from above of four wins in six visits, and their rivals again have their work cut out.

Could Pirelli's softest tyre play a part?

All we can say to that one is, here's hoping! For the first time this season, the Italian tyre manufacturer is providing the softest tyre in its range - the C5.

We have seen numerous tyre issues already this year, primarily due to the fact the cars are effectively too powerful and producing too much downforce for rubber that has not been upgraded from last season.

The circuit, however, is very low on abrasion, allowing Pirelli to go with the C5. But with temperatures set to be unusually high for the time of year across the weekend, with 30 degrees centigrade forecast for Sunday, it potentially throws a curveball into the mix.

Before you go...

New Ferrari Russian GP updates to set 2021 baseline

Ferrari and Red Bull deny Mercedes 'scanning' claim

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