Russian Grand PrixView

By on Thursday, October 9, 2014
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

After several years of trying, Formula 1 heads to Russia this weekend for the inaugural race around the streets of a semi-permanent circuit in Sochi at the site which hosted the Winter Olympics earlier in 2014. It should provide a picturesque backdrop for the sport with its location next to the Black Sea and not too far away from the mountains. Lewis Hamilton heads to Sochi on the back of his third successive victory, which enabled him to stretch the gap to Nico Rosberg to 10 points. But Formula 1 arrives in the country in a sombre mood after the accident which befell Jules Bianchi in Japan and left the Frenchman with a diffuse axonal injury. Everyone will simply be hoping for a clean and safe weekend.

But even in difficult circumstances there remains a race to be won and in the Constructors’, Mercedes is likely to clinch the crown this weekend, with the leading team needing just 25 points, even if Red Bull scores an improbable 1-2 finish.

History

This weekend’s race around Sochi Autodrom is the first time Formula 1 has visited the country but the sport has had links to Russia in the past. A Russian Grand Prix was held around St Petersburg in 1913 and 1914 but the event did not resume due to the First World War and the subsequent rise of the Soviet Union.

A few attempts to bring Formula 1 to the nation have been held in the 21st century, with plans to host a race in St Petersburg and Moscow both falling through. A permanent circuit was built near Moscow but it held Formula Renault 3.5 races – and continues to do so – rather than Formula 1. In 2010 a long-term deal for Formula 1 to visit Sochi was agreed, with the circuit winding its way around the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Circuit

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Initial driver reaction has likened the 5.8km Sochi Autodrom to Valencia, Yas Marina and Yeongam, which isn’t encouraging but it looks as if the track will be a challenge - remember, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada was created after Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics.

The stadium-like start finish straight opens up into a fast-right hander at turn one, with little room for error on the outside. From there it’s a long run down to turn two, the heaviest braking zone on the track and in all probability, the best overtaking opportunity.

Immediately after turn two is a kink at turn three before a long left-hander which will be one of the longest corners on the current calendar and put some serious energy through the tyres.

After which are a sequence of 90 degree corners which wind around some of the former Olympic venues, before the Valencia-esque ‘straight’ between turns 10 and 13. The final slow-medium speed sector ends with a couple of right handers.

Pirelli has decided to bring the Soft and Medium compound tyres to Sochi, while the two DRS zones will be located between turns one and two and between turns 10 and 13. Danny Sullivan will act as the driver steward.

Timetable (GMT+4)

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Friday 10 October

  • Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
  • Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30

Saturday 11 October

  • Practice Three: 12:00 – 13:00
  • Qualifying: 15:00 (60 minutes)

Sunday 12 October

  • Race: 15:00 (53 laps or two hours)

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