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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Worth betting Bottas is allowed to take deserved Sochi victory

Sainz can make most of Renault's tactical masterstroke

Valtteri Bottas is congratulated by his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton
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Russian Grand Prix
Sky Sports F1, 12.10pm Sunday

Top tip
Valtteri Bottas 9-4

After dominating qualifying Mercedes look likely to have the Russian Grand Prix between them. 

Valtteri Bottas, a 10-1 chance to qualify fastest, grabbed his second pole position of the season but bookmakers expect him to give best to championship leader Lewis Hamilton in the race.

Hamilton leads Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 40 points with six races to go and it is possible that Bottas will be asked to hand the victory to his teammate to help maximise Hamilton's championship chances.

Bottas has played a useful supporting role this season, most notably in Italy where he held up Kimi Raikkonen long enough for Hamilton to catch and ultimately overhaul the Ferrari driver.

But Bottas was never going to win that race and at the prices it could be worth betting that the team don't ask the Finn to give up a victory he deserves.

Hamilton could beat Bottas in the race fair and square. He made a habit of breaking Nico Rosberg's heart having qualified behind him a few years ago.

But it's also possible that one of the Ferraris could get between the Silver Arrows at the start and not give Mercedes the option of switching their drivers.

Ferrari have been off the pace all weekend and with Vettel's championship chances evaporating for another year he may have to take a gamble off the startline if he is to have any chance of keeping his title hopes realistically alive.

Vettel will be relieved that the Red Bulls are starting from the back due to penalties, as the Milton Keynes machines have looked just as fast as the Ferraris through practice.

Other markets
C Sainz to win Group Two 10-3

In Singapore last time the drivers who qualified in the lower reaches of the top ten found themselves at a huge disadvantage in having to start the race on the fast-wearing hypersoft tyres.

Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez in particular got stuck behind slower cars after having to make early pitstops in Singapore while those who had qualified slower but had free choice of tyre strategy capitalised.

Hypersofts are again in use this weekend and while the problem shouldn't be quite as bad at Sochi, Renault may have pulled off a tactical masterstroke in deliberately qualifying 11th and 12th rather than trying to reach the top-ten shootout.

It's 13-10 that both Renaults finish in the points but a better bet could be that Carlos Sainz finishes ahead of his Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg as well as Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon, who start fifth and sixth.

Sainz starts one place ahead of Hulkenberg and on the cleaner side of the rarely-used circuit, and the Spaniard has been getting the better results recently.

A concern is that the Renault hasn't looked particularly fast this weekend, but the yellow cars could have a significant strategic advantage over their midfield rivals starting ahead of them.

V Bottas
1pt 9-4 Betfair, Paddy Power
C Sainz to win Group Two
1pt 10-3 bet365

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It could be worth betting the team don't ask the Finn to give up a victory he deserves
E.W. Terms
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