Russia is by far the largest country on earth, with an area of 17.1 million square kilometres. And, while its capital Moscow long had desires for its own Grand Prix, with various team visits over the years…
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, on the Russian riviera, left an excellent legacy project in a Grand Prix venue.
…with four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel, then with Red Bull Racing, checking out the plans ahead of the Games.
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, ready for Formula 1.”
But while he had the first look at the track, Vettel has never won at Sochi - despite being on the podium in three of the last four visits.
… with Mercedes the dominant marque in Russia, with all five wins since 2014 at the dawn of the hybrid era. Lewis Hamilton is top man with three, with Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas on one each.
Bottas taking his maiden win at Sochi, from third on the grid in 2017, but had to sacrifice his place last year to help Hamilton win - with the team’s strategy director, James Vowles, uttering his infamous line.
“Valtteri, it’s James”, he said. “We had a risk with Lewis against Vettel. He has a small blister. I had to do this to make sure we secured this. I understand.”
The squad securing a one-two result; Vettel completing the podium.
Located 30 minutes from Sochi itself the 5.848-kilometre Autodrom has 18 turns - six left and 12 right - and a top speed of 330 kilometres an hour. Bottas reset the lap record last year in his Silver Arrow. There are two DRS activation zones - one on the back straight, the other between turns one and two. There are two DRS detection points, one on the pit straight, the other on the approach to Turn 10.
Seriously fast, technical and in iconic, Olympic, surroundings. It’s time for the Russian Grand Prix.