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Russian Grand Prix - To Sochi Autodrom to start the next thousand

Maranello 23 September 2020

Sunday sees the seventh running of the Russian Grand Prix, the tenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. It takes place at the Sochi Autodrom, near the Black Sea coastal resort, with the 5.848 kilometre track using roads around the Olympic village built for the 2014 Winter games. The nearby Luna Park and its brightly coloured rollercoasters provides a backdrop at various parts of the track.

18 corners. The track has 18 corners, 12 to the right and 6 to the left, with 1.7 km on public roads. The lap starts near the train station and heads for the Medals Plaza, which was where the Olympic prizegiving ceremonies took place and the five linked rings still mark the spot. The distance from the start line to the first corner is just over 100 metres, with a slight bend to the right that is taken flat out, leading to the first braking point, where cars slow from 330 to 130 km/h, in under two seconds and over less than 100 metres. This is the first of two DRS zones. The long left hander at Turn 3 goes round the Medals Plaza and is flat at almost 300 km/h, followed by a series of right angle corners in the second sector, which is more technical and twistier. A good exit from turn 10 is vital prior to the very fast slightly curved section in the second DRS zone, leading to turn 13, one of the heaviest braking points on the track. The final sector is the slowest, with various 90 degree turns requiring a reasonably high level of aerodynamic downforce.

Spectators. For the second consecutive race, spectators will be admitted to the grandstands. Around 31,000 are expected at Sochi, underlining the organisers wish to get back to some sort of normality, while respecting anti-Covid regulations.

Programme. The two Friday free practice sessions begin at 11 and 15 local time (10 and 14 CET), while the final hour to prepare for qualifying is on Saturday at 12 (11 CET). Qualifying gets underway at 15 (14 CET) and Sunday’s race starts at 14.10 (13.10 CET).


Laurent Mekies, Sporting director

"In some ways, the Russian Grand Prix marks the start of the second part of the season. The first part was really intense, with nine races in eleven weeks, as the world of Formula 1 took on the complex task of tackling the World Championship during a pandemic. I think everyone worked together really well – the FIA, Formula 1, the teams and media - and managed to pull off something that had looked far from obvious just back in May.

The first part of the season proved to be very difficult for the Scuderia, as can be seen from the results. But it’s not in our nature to give up under any circumstances. That’s the spirit in which we approach the Sochi weekend, even if in the short time we’ve been coming here, the track has never been too favourable for us. We will do our best, aware that at the moment, we are up against a lot of stiff opposition.

We will be introducing a few small aero updates on the SF1000, as part of the plan which extends over the next few races to correct as far as possible the weaknesses seen in recent races, particularly with a view to 2021. We’re not expecting this small package to make a big change but it will allow us to check its functionality and give us a baseline for future developments".

Sebastian Vettel #5

“The Sochi track has a very nice first sector, especially when you tackle turn 3 accelerating flat out. In the second sector there’s a series of ninety degree medium speed corners and you need to have a good line going into them.

On the technical front, you need to manage the hard braking points and how you apply the power on corner exit so that the tyres don’t suffer too much. However, the final sector is less exciting, tighter and with a few low speed sections. Overtaking is rather difficult and that’s why it will be important to do a good job in free practice to get all the potential out of the car in qualifying.”

Charles Leclerc #16

"There are two things that immediately come to mind when thinking about Sochi, a long straight and the rollercoaster. 

The circuit features one of the longest straights of the championship, followed by an interesting mix of corners. I’d say the first sector is the most exciting. The first target for all the drivers will be to get the most out of qualifying and secure a good position on the grid, as it is not easy to overtake there.

 I’ve had a lot of fun in Sochi in the past. Most of all in the theme park, which is next to the track. I remember the first time I went there with Formula 1, back in 2018. I met up with some of the other drivers whom I am friends with and went on some of the rides. It was a really good way to relax before starting our weekend activities.

 I’m glad that some fans will be able to come and see us race and I hope that we can put on a good show for them".

Ferrari stats

GP contested 1000

Seasons in F1 70

Debut Monaco 1950 (Alberto Ascari 2nd; Raymond Sommer 4th; Luigi Villoresi ret.)

Wins 238 (23.80%)

Pole positions 228 (22.80%)

Fastest laps 254 (25.40%)

Podiums 772 (77.20%)

Ferrari stats Russian GP

GP entered 6

Debut 2014 (Kimi Raikkonen 9th; Fernando Alonso 6th)

Wins 0

Pole positions 2 (33.33%)

Fastest laps 2 (33.33%)

Podiums 6 (100%)

Russian GP -  Facts & Figures

2. Russian teams that have raced in Formula 1. The first was Midland, in 2006. The operation was financed by Russian-Canadian businessman, Alex Shnaider who took over the Jordan team, before relinquishing the team to the Dutch Spyker company, after a single season in which it failed to score in 18 races. The drivers were Dutchman Christijan Albers and Portugal’s Tiago Monteiro. The second Russian team was Marussia, which was in Formula 1 from 2012 to 2014. It took part in 73 races, 34 of them with Ferrari engines and it scored 2 points. Those came at the 2014 Monaco GP courtesy of the first Ferrari Driver Academy student, Frenchman Jules Bianchi.

3. Russian drivers have raced in Formula 1. The first was Vitaly Petrov, from 2010 to 2012, with Renault and Caterham. He has one third place and one fastest lap from 57 race starts. The second to reach Formula 1 was Daniil Kvyat, who has raced for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri. He also did a stint as a Ferrari test and development driver, before returning to the grid in 2019. He is the most successful Russian to date, with three podiums, one fastest lap and 180 points from 102 starts. Sergey Sirotkin scored one point from 21 starts when racing for Williams in 2018. That year, Artem Markelov did a Friday free practice session at the Russian Grand Prix for Renault, but he has not appeared since. Markelov is one of three Russians currently in Formula 2, the others being Nikita Mazepin and the Ferrari Driver Academy’s Robert Shwartzman.

6. The number of Safety Car appearances at Sochi. There were no Safety Cars in 2014, but the following year saw two, in the opening three laps and then from laps 12 to 18. The first three laps were also run under the Safety Car in 2016 and 2017, while in 2018, the race ran its course normally. Last year, once again the Safety Car was required for the opening three laps, while on lap 28, the Virtual Safety Car was used, before transforming into the real one from laps 30 to 32.

8. Cities that have hosted one Formula 1 Grand Prix and at least one Olympic Games: Sochi where Formula 1 has raced seven times, was home to the 2014 Winter Olympics. The others are Montreal (Summer games in 1976 and 40 Canadian GPs), Barcelona (1992 Olympics and 36 Formula 1 GPs, twice at the Pedralbes track, four times at Montjuich and 30 at Montmelo), Melbourne, (the Summer games in 1956 and 24 Australian GPs), Mexico City (Olympics in 1968 and 20 GPs), Berlin (1936 Games and one GP in 1959 at the AVUS circuit), Rio de Janeiro (2016 Games and 10 Brazilian GPs at Jacarepagua) and Los Angeles (1932 and 1984 Olympics and eight Grands Prix at the Long Beach street circuit).

26. The average number of overtaking moves (not counting pit stop strategy passes) at the Russian Grand Prix. The inaugural event in 2014 saw the most action, with 35 overtakes. There was just one in 2017, between the Ferrari-powered Sauber team-mates Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

This week in our history

23/9. In 1990, the Portuguese Grand Prix took place at Estoril. Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid, but at the start, Nigel Mansell got wheelspin on his F1-90 and then squeezed team-mate Alain Prost against the pit wall, letting the two McLarens through into the lead. The Englishman fought his way back and passed Ayrton Senna for the lead at turn 1 to take his last ever win for the Prancing Horse. Prost was third behind Senna.

24/9. In 1931 Mike Parkes was born in Richmond, Surrey, UK. He was a versatile driver who first drove for Scuderia Ferrari in endurance races in 1961 and he got his best results in this discipline. He had 27 wins to his name, including the 1964 Sebring 12 Hours when he was teamed with Umberto Maglioli in a works 275 P. He also won the Monza 1000 Km in 1965 and 1966, the first year with Frenchman Jean Guichet in a works 275 P2 and the second in a works 330 P3 with fellow countryman John Surtees. Parkes also competed in seven Formula 1 races, six with the Scuderia, taking two second places in 1966, in the French and Italian Grands Prix, won by Lodovico Scarfiotti. Parkes was killed in a road traffic accident in Turin on 28 August 1977. At the time he was an engineer and test driver for Lancia, working on the track version of the Stratos.

25/9. In 2010, Fernando Alonso took pole for the third Singapore Grand Prix. The Spaniard posted a 1’45”390, beating Sebastian Vettel’s time in the Red Bull by 67 thousandths and Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren by 181. This was Alonso’s second pole with the Scuderia and the next day he converted pole into his fourth win with the team.

26/9. In 2004, the first ever Chinese Grand Prix was held in Shanghai. Rubens Barrichello took pole for Ferrari, while team-mate Michael Schumacher had to start from the back, when he failed to set a qualifying time, having spun off. At the time, drivers went out one at a time in qualifying for one flying lap. The Brazilian produced a perfect race to win with Schumacher managing to work his way back to 12th.

27/9. In 2017, Scuderia Ferrari applied a decal of the United States flag to all three cars it brought to Indianapolis for the United States Grand Prix. This was done as a show of solidarity with the American people after the tragic events of 9/11. The stars and stripes were visible on the barge boards ahead of the side pods.