Russian GP Preview
|Lewis Hamilton will dominate again in Russia|
Suzuka was a really special weekend for me and another fantastic result for the team. Everyone is doing such an incredible job once again this season and every bit of this success is well deserved. The car was unbelievable to drive in Japan, so hopefully it'll be more of the same at the remaining races – starting in Sochi. Last year was the first experience I'd had of Russia in my racing career and we had a great race there. The circuit is really well put together – quite long, with some interesting corners and opportunities to overtake. Hopefully now fans have seen what a great facility they have there and how beautiful Sochi is, we'll see plenty more people in the stands this year too. It was great to win the first race for Formula One in Russia and a fantastic moment for the team to take the title there last time out. Fingers crossed we can add to those great memories again this weekend – I'll be pushing as hard as I can to make that happen.
Once I got back from Japan, I was able to focus on the positive elements from my weekend in Suzuka: pole position, the on-track pass on Bottas and then having the speed to undercut Vettel's Ferrari at the second pit-stop. I'm not backing down in my fight for the championship and gaining those positions back fair and square showed that. We have five races to go and, although the championship gap to Lewis is quite big, in my mind it's definitely not over yet. The way the whole team has performed this year – from the factories to the garage – has been just incredible and I have the car I need to get back to the top step. I really enjoyed our first trip to Russia last year and it was an awesome weekend for the team – one that I will always remember after seeing all the hard work they've put in during my time here. So, I'm aiming to put all those tools they've given me to good use and bring home a top result.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Japan was an important weekend for the team. We had to hit back strongly after Singapore and that objective was achieved on all fronts – in the cockpit and in the garage. While we take satisfaction from these successes, however, we do not lose sight of our failures. There are still many obstacles left to overcome this season and we must continue to tackle them with full force. We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first Constructors' title for Mercedes-Benz with a 1-2 finish. A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target – but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
Suzuka was a very pleasing weekend after the disappointment of Singapore. The team and drivers did a great job to bring home a top result and we now head to Sochi aiming to repeat that feat. This was a tricky weekend last season, with a new circuit to learn and fresh tarmac which produced slightly unusual behavior from the tires. This year we have moved one step softer on the compounds to bring the soft and supersoft into play – perhaps influenced by Nico running almost the entire race last year on a single set of tires. One year on, the track surface will have weathered differently so we must ensure we have all eventualities covered. The 2014 Russian Grand Prix – the first for a century, of course, and the inaugural running of the event during the Formula One era – was very well organized and saw a good crowd for what is a growing market in the sport. We look forward to seeing our Russian fans out in force again and hope to put on a good show.
After a successful debut on the Formula One calendar in 2014, the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi returns to host the 16th round of the Championship. The Sochi Autodrom is one of the longest in Formula One and circumnavigates the 2014 Winter Olympic venues as well as sharing just over 1km with public roads. Designed by Herman Tilke, the circuit boasts some of his signature designs such as long straights and sweeping hairpins. The drivers will head back to Sochi with a greater understanding of the circuit and the fans will be expecting another exciting race following a memorable first outing in 2014 that saw Valtteri Bottas claim a third place finish.
The objectives for the Championship are fairly clear. We are looking to reduce the gap to the teams in front and extend the gap to the teams behind and we hope to further realise those goals in Russia. The facilities in Sochi are excellent considering it’s a new track and we are hoping for another good race, with plenty of overtaking like last year. The track has some quick straights and low speed corners, so the compromise on downforce has to be correct. Sochi is a circuit that suits our car with high power and drag sensitivities. We managed to have a good weekend last year from a performance point of view and we will be looking to build on this.
We had a good result last year in Russia so we’re expecting another strong weekend and a good collection of points. We all know the track now and it has a really good flow, with the long straights a good fit for our car. The fans were passionate last year so we look forward to putting on another good show for them. Pace wise we were close to Mercedes in Japan and I think we can be close again in Sochi, just like we were in 2014.
Russia is a very nice track with a few long straights which makes it interesting for overtaking. The circuit has almost everything, starting with a straight and then moving into high-speed corners and then very slow corners in the middle sector. This makes setting up the car really important and the importance of downforce evident. I hope to make amends for qualifying last year and I’m confident we can have a competitive race.
VJM: I'm feeling optimistic as we approach the final couple of months of the season. In Singapore and Japan we continued to show competitive pace and, despite missing the chance to score with both cars, we remain in a solid fifth place in the championship.
Russia will give us another chance to unleash more potential from the B-spec car. Even at this late stage of the season we continue to bring new parts to the car thanks to all the hard work back at the factory.
There's every reason to believe we can be competitive in Sochi and we expect to be up there fighting for good points.
|Sergio Perez in the Force India|
Sergio on Russia
Sergio: I scored a point in Sochi last year and I'm looking forward to racing there again. They did a really nice job with the track and there are some interesting corners, especially the long left-hand turn three – in qualifying last year we were taking it flat.
In some ways the Sochi track reminds me of Singapore and Abu Dhabi. That's because there are lots of 90 degree corners and acceleration zones, which put high energy through the rear tires. There are some quick parts of the lap too. I remember last year that turn 12 was quite difficult because you are pulling high g-forces and braking for turn 13 at the same time.
We saw last year that overtaking wasn't easy and it was a one-stop race for most cars. This year the tires are a step softer so perhaps that will mix up the strategy options a bit more.
Nico on Russia
Nico: The result in Suzuka was just what I needed after a few unlucky weekends since the summer break. We had good pace, we did our homework and we achieved all we could from the race. It was very satisfying to see how competitive we were and that's given me a confidence boost for the races to come.
I had my first experience of Russia last year and enjoyed it. The unusual venue inside the Olympic Park is pretty cool and the track itself has a nice flow. The lap is quite long, with many similar corners, and that adds to the difficulty of putting together a perfect lap. The final sector is quite technical and is a big challenge for the drivers.
|Kvyat happy to race in home country|
Dany, it's home race time. Can you count the number of times you've given interviews about the Russian GP?
Impossible to count – hundreds? I have talked about it a lot but it's the same for any driver, the home race is always the busiest! So, what do you want to know about – the track?
Well, last year we couldn't talk about it as no one had driven on the finished product before, so what did you make of it?
I would describe it as a classic modern-style track. But what's really important is that there is quite a lot of room for overtaking, which usually makes for good racing. It does have some quite interesting, quite unusual sections. There are some challenging braking areas, in Turn 13 for example. Also Turn 4 is quite tough. I would characterize it as a very technical circuit.
It probably doesn't really have a standout, balls-out corner, it really does make you think a lot and it takes some time to work out the best way round it. Having said that, it's my home race and I enjoy it a lot. The atmosphere last year was fantastic, there were so many fans giving me support. It really feels awesome to be there.
Last year, with Toro Rosso, you had a great qualifying but the race didn't quite work out did it?
Yeah, qualifying was great [Dany was fifth on Saturday] but the race was just… how can I say this… well, it was crap. We had problems with fuel consumption during the race and it was just a really disappointing day. I'm hoping we will be able to give the fans there something more to cheer about this year.
Does all the attention at a home race mean it's harder to concentrate on the job in hand? Do you struggle to find some headspace to focus on the race?
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]In a way it's true, sometimes you do get some strong attention but that's part of the game and what you have to take from it is that the attention comes from the fact that perhaps you have been doing something good, which is a positive.
You have to understand that the fans are coming out to support you and that is something quite special – I'm happy to have the attention, it gives you a bit of a lift.
So, Daniel, you've raced in every grand prix at the Sochi Autodrom, what do you think about it?
The organizers have done a really good job with the facilities – everything is top notch! They've put in really good grandstands around the stadium section for fans, and that generates a good atmosphere. But in the car it's 90Â° corner – straight – 90Â° corner – straight, so in terms of driver satisfaction it's a little flat.
How about Sochi itself?
Oh yeah, surprising! Really liked the beach. But I would say that, wouldn't I?
At the start of the year Dany laughed himself silly when he saw your workload in Melbourne. Time for revenge?
Definitely. I'm looking forward to putting my feet up and letting him do the heavy lifting…
Any advice for your team-mate?
Take a deep breath and hold on – and don't look too far ahead at the schedule. Take each event as it comes and before you know it you'll be through it and strapping into the car. Also, don't make too much noise in the hotel when you're leaving in the mornings. I'm planning to have a lie in. Before a swim.
This week the Sauber F1 Team is travelling to Sochi on the Black Sea Coast, which was the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics, for the second Russian Grand Prix. The team's freight, which is around 35 tons, has already arrived in the paddock at the Sochi Autodrom. The Sauber C34-Ferraris were transported directly by air from Nagoya to Sochi.
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Marcus Ericsson (car number 9):
Last season the Russian Grand Prix was my last race both with Caterham and for the year. Qualifying wasn't so bad, and then I also had a decent race. So I have good memories of this track. Hopefully the second Russian race will be a positive weekend for me with the Sauber C34-Ferrari. But we have to work hard to optimize our updates that we have brought to Singapore, and try to make them work even better. And, of course, our aim is to score points again.
Felipe Nasr (car number 12):
The track in Sochi is again another circuit on which I will drive my first laps in a Formula One car. But I know it from last year's GP2 races. I have quite good memories from this weekend after finishing one of the races on the podium. The circuit itself is a bit of a mix between a permanent and a street track. It is impressive that it has been built in the center of the Olympic Park, which makes it an interesting environment. The circuit itself consists mainly of low and medium-speed corners. Therefore, braking stability as well as traction is very important. During the weekend we will continue to work on evaluating our aero package.
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
The circuit in Sochi, which was new to the calendar one year ago, is regarded in our team as one of the kindest on the tires due to its special surface, the absence of very high speed corners and the cool ambient temperatures. On this basis, Pirelli has chosen the soft and supersoft compounds, as opposed to the medium and soft that were used one year ago: it will be interesting to reassess what that means for the car's set-up and race strategy. The track itself runs through the park used for the 2014 Winter Olympics and is, to a large extent, surrounded by walls, yet it can't really be considered a typical street circuit. The straight-line performance, traction and braking dominates the first and the last sectors, whereas the middle one is more technical and requires the drivers to find their rhythm through the flow of the corners.
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