Sochi F1 ()Sochi F1 () © Copyright

David Coulthard's guide to Sochi

New tracks aren’t always a success in F1 (we’re looking at you, South Korea), but Russia’s Sochi street circuit seems to have cemented its place in the calendar – for now – so it’s about time everyone got up to speed. And we’ve got David Coulthard to help us out

“It was an interesting challenge for designers to set up a track around what is essentially an Olympic park,” he explains. “Some of that was using existing roads and some of it was interesting technical challenges.

“It would be pretty easy to imagine a straightforward 90 degree street circuit – a bit like Phoenix used to be in the old days – but what they were actually able to achieve was a relatively high-speed venue, which does fit comfortably among the various stadiums for ice hockey, football etc.” Here’s all you need to know about the track itself…  

Russia's Sochi Street Circuit F1 ()

 

Overtaking ops

“Turn two offers an overtaking opportunity. Nico Rosberg made a mistake there a couple of years ago when he went inside Hamilton, locked up, and ran off the circuit. Obviously, the drivers knowingly use different corners to overtake based on risk vs reward.” 

Hamilton’s Sochi streak

“Last year, Lewis made things work in qualifying, got in front of his team-mate and controlled the race. I don’t think there’s anything about the track that suggests Nico couldn’t go there this year and find himself the stronger of the Mercedes drivers.” 

Smooth operations

“It’s a very smooth surface  at Sochi. I don’t recall drivers having a problem with tyre graining [splitting]. Depending on where you are in the world, they lay different tarmac to suit the weather. It’s more of an issue in places with high temperatures at track level, like Abu Dhabi.”

Run off

“There’s a bit of run-off around that first half of the track, but not so much around the second half. Big run off space means you can push it. If there’s room for error, you’ll exploit that to try to find the limit.”

Mercedes overtaking at Sochi Street Circuit in Russia ()

 

Power play

“Last year, the very high-speed areas of the track really favoured Mercedes because they had a very efficient engine package. Therefore, they could accelerate the mass using the hybrid engine element together. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Mercedes should again be leading the way.”

Top challenge

“Turn 13 can be challenging – it’s in the middle sector where Sainz had his crash last year. You’re coming through the end of a DRS (Drag Reduction System) zone at high speed, and you’ve got lateral load while you brake. That’s always an interesting section.”

Keep it street

“The end of the lap is more street circuit. The lower speed section relies more on mechanical and aerodynamics, and less on outright engine speed. That tended to suit Red Bull, who had a good chassis and engine package, but they lacked the power to keep up overall.”

David Coulthard ()

 

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