It is Friday evening in Sochi and it is time to summarize what stood out from today, aside from on-track action.
Vettel fighting against time and space in Suzuka race week - As it emerged from the FIA press conference featuring the team representatives, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes agree to be on duty on an additional tyre test before Suzuka. Laurent Mekies confirmed Sebastian Vettel will be at the wheel and then he will be flying straight to Japan, whereas Jake Dennis will drive for Red Bull at the tyre test in Barcelona. James Allison regarded the aim of testing in order to get better tyres as a “noble” one and revealed that Esteban Ocon will represent Mercedes as the test. Therefore, Vettel will be the only non-test driver who will be taking part in the session.
Back to the future - One of the hottest rumours that started circulating earlier was McLaren being on the verge of reverting back to Mercedes as their PU supplier. The Woking-based team is on a three-year deal with Renault, which is expiring at the end of 2020. Therefore, speculation has intensified over its next move. In all fairness, it would make sense for Renault to lose its only client ahead of 2021, in order to focus solely on its own growth without needing to share any information and sort of isolate itself from the rest of the grid development-wise.
Home GP heartbreak - Daniil Kvyat was not allowed to use a special helmet livery for his home Grand Prix, as his Italian GP special helmet already featured different colours. The Russian driver was then forced to stick with his usual helmet colours on Friday. The FIA sporting regulations actually forbids drivers from using different designs or colours on their helmet more than once each season.
Weather forecast clouded in uncertainty (literally!) – Rain is forecast for the whole day of Saturday September 28th. FP3 is very likely to be a wet session, as the chances of rain have risen to about 70%, whereas for qualifying they slightly lowered to 55%. It appears that tomorrow rain will spice things up, as most of the drivers are still unsure about their level of competitiveness in intermediate and wet conditions in Sochi. Therefore, it will be one additional tricky factor to look forward to.