Next up for round 4 the Sochi Autodrom, a 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit. Despite it’s complete lack of camber or elevation change, it reminds me of a nice roller coaster that weaves through the stunning architecture of the Winter Olympics and down the coast of the black sea. It will be interesting to see how the cars go at this circuit it could either be good racing or a repeat of Melbourne. I think there is just enough variation to the track that we are going to see a very good race though. Weather conditions will be good. The circuit varies between what are essentially long straights interrupted by short corners in sector 1 whereas sector 3 is very slow and takes much more life out of the tyres. In this sense it will be important to manage the tyres properly in sector 1 so they’re not dead by sector 3.
However, the tarmac is very smooth here and has what’s called a “low macro roughness” meaning there is a very low degradation for the tyres. In 2014 Rosberg did the entire race minus one lap on one set of White Medium tyres. With that partly in mind Pirelli have gone down one level of softness for tyre options this year and will now offer the Soft, Supersoft, and for the first time Pirelli P Zero Purple Ultrasofts.
The current track record at the Sochi Autodrom is 1:35.417, set last year by Mercedes Nico Rosberg in Q3 but this record will likely be broken in the free practice sessions possibly even the first. A non-Mercedes car has never won at this track either now in it’s 4th year of running, so Haas will be hoping Ferrari power has made an improvement at this circuit. Grosjean’s has qualified P8 in 2015 with a best result of P8 in 2016 while Magnussen’s best qualifying in 2016 started him 11th with a best result of P5 in 2014.
“A lot will depend on the temperature. The tarmac in Bahrain is very rough. It’s very smooth in Russia…I do quite like the fast turn three. It’s a very high-speed corner, flat out, then just going into turn four, coming out of the corner, then braking straight away for turn four. I think the corners flow into each other quite nicely. It’s a good track to drive.”
The Sochi Autodrom seems to emulate Bahrain in terms of setup. How much of what you learned in Bahrain can be transferred to the Russian Grand Prix?
“I think you learn every weekend more and more about the car. You get a better understanding overall, which is going to help everywhere…I like turns six, seven and eight as they’re high speed.”
UPDATE: Haas to start Russian GP weekend with Carbon Industrie brakes
Carbon Industrie brakes will be used by Haas at the start of the Russian Grand Prix weekend. Carbon Industrie brakes were first tested by Haas in 2016 at Brazil and will again be tested as the team struggles to get the performance out of Brembo brakes which caused frustration during the second half of 2016 for the team.
Because they ran Brembo brakes during winter testing, they were forced to start the season with them due to new Formula 1 rules. However, after positive driver feedback from Bahrain testing of Carbon Industrie brakes Haas has decided to start FP1 in Sochi on them after which they will make their decision for the race.
By Jeremiah Doctson
(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)