At a record cost of $50 billion US dollars, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games held in Sochi were the most expensive in history…
SOUNDUP (English) SOCHI FAN:
“It was outstanding, I never saw anything like this before."
But they came with an equally impressive legacy – the Sochi Autodrom, a circuit on the edge of the Black Sea, one that incorporates the roads and world-class facilities from the former Olympic precinct.
And like the Winter Games, no expense was spared with the track costing $300 million US dollars to construct, with around $50 million more needed annually to host the Russian Grand Prix.
SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“The Sochi organisers have put on a fantastic venue for us. They look after us extremely well. It’s some of the best facilities that we have to operate in over the course of the season, and it’s a great atmosphere. The Russians clearly like their Formula 1.”
The Sochi Autodrom was designed by architect Hermann Tilke, who was also responsible for tracks like Circuit of the Americas in Austin, and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.
…with Sebastian Vettel, then with Red Bull Racing, checking out the plans one year out from the inaugural event in 2014.
SOUNDBITE (English) SEBASTIAN VETTEL,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Obviously, right now it’s a big building site. But, next year, it will all be done. We get a clue already, when the Olympics come here in winter, and then couple of months later we have the pleasure to come here and everything is brand new and finished, and ready for Formula 1.”
Located 1600 kilometres south of Moscow, the 5.848-kilometre track has 18 turns – six left and 12 right – and a top speed of 330 kilometres an hour. Kimi Räikkönen reset the lap record last year in his Ferrari. There are two DRS activation zones – one on the back straight, the other between turns one and two. There are two DRS detection zones, one on the pit straight, the other on the approach to Turn 10.
The track’s most famous corner is Turn 3, which is a 750 metre constant radius curve, and the longest left-hander on the Formula 1 calendar.
A technical challenge for the drivers, Sochi has long straights, high-speed corners and heavy braking zones; making power important, especially the balance between the engine and energy recovery systems.
And in F1’s hybrid era, Mercedes has dominated Russia with all four wins since 2014. Lewis Hamilton on two, Nico Rosberg one and Valtteri Bottas last year - his first in F1, holding off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
This year will mark the fifth edition of the Sochi race and is a must win for Vettel – with a victory for championship leader Hamilton seeing the deficit extend to at least 47-points…putting the crown almost out of reach.
Sochi will also be a maiden home race for Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, a special moment for the Russian who grew up in the 1990s watching his heroes on TV.
SOUNDBITE (English) SERGEY SIROTKIN,
F1 DRIVER, WILLIAMS:
“Well, I really started to watch the Formula 1 when I was still a very young kid, it was Schumacher, Hakkinen fighting each other, Ferrari and McLaren both great names.”
Quick, technical and tough – it’s time for the Russian Grand Prix.