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Perez: Mercedes are favourites for Russian GP

The Red Bull driver believes Mercedes will be the team to beat at this weekend's Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

Sergio Perez expects Mercedes to lead the way at the Russian Grand Prix, due to their unbeaten record at the Sochi Autodrom since the event joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2014. Perez could play a pivotal role for Red Bull this weekend because his teammate Max Verstappen will carry a three-place grid penalty, meaning he will start no higher than fourth, after being deemed predominantly to blame for his incident with Lewis Hamilton at Monza. "Mercedes have won every race at Sochi since 2014 so they're the favourites this weekend," said Perez. "They're definitely going to be hard to beat but like always we will give it our best. "Sochi is a track I like because it is very technical, fast and fluid which I think makes qualifying quite exciting. "It is very important we help each other out and try to get the most from each weekend for the team, especially as we come towards the end of the season where there are less races to capitalise on." Perez finished third on the road last time out at Monza but his five-second time penalty, for overtaking Charles Leclerc off the track, demoted him to fifth. The Mexican sits in fifth place in the Drivers' Championship and has not had a podium since the French GP in June. He's eager to take his Monza form into this weekend's race in Sochi. "We knew going into Monza that it wasn't our best track and it was a shame to lose the podium after the race with the penalty, but there are plenty of positives to take from the weekend," continued Perez. "We're going to a very different kind of track in Russia and so I really hope we can continue our form and start strong on Friday."

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