5 talking points ahead of the Russian Grand Prix
The Formula One circus has parked up in Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix. Here we dissect five talking points ahead of Sunday's race.
1. Champion shouldn't be written off yet
Lewis Hamilton may have been cast 36 points adrift of Nico Rosberg following the opening three rounds of the championship, but the world champion does not sound like a man recently usurped by his Mercedes team-mate as the new title favourite. "After all these years, experience has taught me to stay calm," said Hamilton, who is on a six-race winless streak. "Adversity is part of the journey, it makes us stronger, and I know that together we will bounce back." Hamilton, a winner in Russia on each of the two occasions the race has been staged there, was 29 points behind Rosberg with just seven rounds remaining in 2014 and still won the championship. With 18 races, and 450 points still up for grabs, it would take a brave soul to write the Briton off just yet.
2. Hamilton's been racking up the air miles
Hamilton's globe-trotting exploits are well documented, but the 31-year-old took his travelling to whole new realms following the Chinese Grand Prix. On the Monday following the Shanghai race he was in Berlin for the Laureus Sport Awards - where he presented his boss and fellow three-time world champion Niki Lauda with a lifetime achievement gong - before heading to the UK on Tuesday, and then to the United States less than 24 hours later. He ended his trip across the pond by attending the Time 100 Gala - he has recently been named among the 100 most influential people by the well-known American magazine - with his mum, Carmen. There, he raised a toast to Prince, the musician who died last week, and then also to his father, Anthony, now a largely anonymous figure in the paddock following Hamilton's decision to ditch him as his manager in 2010.
3. Ecclestone loves a controversial comment
It would not be Formula One without Bernie Ecclestone causing some sort of controversy, and the 85-year-old chief executive was at it again recently when - for the second time this year - he claimed women would not be taken seriously in F1. While his remarks courted criticism, Susie Wolff, the recently retired British driver, was quick to back Ecclestone. Wolff launched the Dare To Be Different scheme earlier this year - an initiative aimed at increasing female participation in motor racing - and one which she said Ecclestone has recently signed up to. In an apparent move to stem the flow of criticism aimed in his direction, Ecclestone later revealed he had contributed £12,000 to the initiative.
4. Regulations row set to rumble on in Russia
The April 30 deadline to determine the regulations for 2017 is fast approaching, yet, somewhat predictably, the sport is not in unanimous agreement. While it appears as though plans to make the cars faster and wider will be given the green light, there is no consensus over how the sport's engines will be regulated, with an appetite in some corners for the playing field to be levelled out. Expect the row to rumble on in Russia this weekend.
5. Sirotkin and Booth back involved
Russian Sergey Sirotkin will make his second Formula One appearance in front of his home crowd at Sochi's Olympic Park. The 20-year-old will replace Renault's Kevin Magnussen in opening practice on Friday. Elsewhere, Englishman John Booth, formerly of Manor, makes a surprise return to the grid this weekend after being named racing director at Toro Rosso. Booth, who helped school the formative years of Hamilton's racing career, was dumped by Manor at the end of last season.