This is the fifteenth circuit from the pen of German architect and designer Hermann Tilke and as a starting point he was instructed to produce a track that winds its way around the stadia used for this year’s Winter Olympics. It features 18 corners, with a very fast sweeping left hander following the start-finish line. Much of the track looks like an American street circuit with high catch fencing and there are two fast sections, although nothing one could call a real straightand these are linked by slow to medium speed corners.
Working out how to set up the car for a new track is something Formula One engineers have had plenty of experience of over the years and involves running various simulation programmes, including information gained from putting Jev and Daniil in the driver simulator. While this provides a good enough starting point, it is never enough to have a really clear picture of what to expect. That is particularly the case this year, with the complex power units, so questions about how easy it will be for energy recovery systems to get charged and how to use their energy are something of a mystery.
Apart from the technical side of the event, this is an important Grand Prix for Scuderia Toro Rosso given that we are fielding the only Russian driver on the grid. We can expect a busy weekend and hopefully a successful one!
Time for my home race and the first ever Formula One Grand Prix in my home country. I am sure there will be a lot of attention on me, but I am ready for it and will enjoy it in a way, so really I will just do my usual job: the best I can. In fact, following the amazing news that I will be driving for Infiniti Red Bull Racing next year, doing the best I can for Scuderia Toro Rosso will be my priority this weekend and for the last three races after that. I don’t get to go back to Russia very often, so I’m very excited to finally race in my home country in front of the Russian fans. I’m sure it’s going to be a very big and exciting event. As for the Sochi track itself, from what I’ve seen on the simulator, I’d say it’s a medium and slow speed corner venue, rather stop-and-go and with twisty sections. I would say it’s a bit of a half street circuit, which makes it quite challenging. There are some power sections but not many, so it should suit our car quite well. A message for the fans? Come and support me and Scuderia Toro Rosso.
JEAN-ERIC VERGNE (25): JEAN-ERIC VERGNE
I’ve never been to Russia at all, so this is a trip I’m looking forward to, as I enjoy discovering new countries. The track looks interesting, with a hint of street circuit about it and that means it might suit our car. It will be a new experience for everyone, which means it is quite a challenge for the engineers, who will have a Friday morning set-up based on the work we have done in a simulator. So there’s an element of guesswork, especially when it comes to what degradation we can expect from the Medium and Soft Pirellis. I enjoy learning a new track and usually after the first session, we are up to speed and ready to move forward for the rest of the weekend.