Sochi, Russia - Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is looking to continue the momentum from two wins out of the first three Formula One Grands Prix of 2017 as he seeks a first victory in Sochi at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Winning in Sochi could be a good omen for the four-times world champion, as all the previous three editions of the Sochi race were won by the drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes – who went on to win the world championship in those seasons.
"I'm really enjoying it; the car has been a pleasure," Vettel said after his win in Bahrain on 16 April. "Things start to click and hopefully that sort of success now in the first couple of races helps us to build up some sort of momentum that maybe these guys had in the past and the last couple of years. So they will be the ones to beat."
Vettel crashed out last year at the Sochi Autodrom on the first lap of a race won by now-retired champion Rosberg.
With extra downforce on the 2017 cars and a circuit now expected to have more grip than in its early days, Mercedes cannot expect the domination of the past three seasons.
"It's a totally different kind of track this weekend in Sochi," Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said on the official Formula one website "In this season, with these new regulations, you can't take anything for granted.
"The trophies of previous years don't guarantee that we'll be winning in Russia when you have a very fierce competitor like we do in Ferrari. We'll take it one step at a time, start the weekend well and hopefully have a good result on Sunday."
Vettel, who won in Australia and Bahrain, has 68 points in the Drivers' standings, while Chinese GP winner Hamilton is on 61 and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas on 38.
For Toro Rosso's Russian driver Daniil Kvyat, Sochi will be another chance to impress home fans - his best finish was fifth with Red Bull in 2015.
"This is always a special weekend for me as it's my home race," he said. "I've had very good qualifyings there but I've never actually been able to put the perfect race together in Russia, so I'd like to achieve it this year," he said.
"It's so cool to race here, I always feel the strong support of the Russian fans and I want to make the most out of this backing and thank everyone with a strong performance."DPA