2017 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX, PREVIEW
Sahara Force India looks ahead to round four of the 2017 Formula One season in Sochi, Russia.
Vijay Mallya: “Three races out of three with both cars in the points is a super start to our season. We’re up in fourth place in the championship and making the most of the opportunities. Races such as Bahrain showed our strengths as a team. We never gave up, even after a difficult Saturday, and we raced hard on Sunday. Sergio extended his points scoring run to thirteen races, which is a tremendous achievement and shows our consistency as a team. Esteban did well to score another point and we are pleased with his performance so far. It means we can head to Russia in good spirits and determined to pick up some more points.”
SFI’S SOCHI TOP 5
– Wander around Olimpiyskiy Park in Adler and marvel at the stunning venues of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
– Stop over at the tiny Khachapuri cafe to try the eponymous Caucasus delicacy, a filled Georgian cheese bread.
– Have a bit of time after the race? Head inland to the Vorontsovskaya Cave to see stalactites and other formations. The drive to the caves is very scenic so keep your cameras ready.
– Visit the Park Riviera amusement and spot the palm trees – they have been planted by Russian cosmonauts!
– Enjoy a Black Sea sunset on the pedestrianised promenade overlooking Sochi’s rocky beach.
Sergio: “I said after Bahrain that I was very proud of my team. We never gave up and dug deep to recover a great result. It was even more special because we continued our run of races in the points – it’s now thirteen consecutive races. When we qualified in P18, I thought it would be hard to do it, but we delivered a perfect race and really deserved this result.
“I think the start of the season has gone really well and we can be happy with the results we have achieved already. The team has done an excellent job to read the races, call the strategy and take the opportunities. That’s a real strength of this team.
“I have good memories from Sochi and our podium in 2015 shows that anything is possible. I think every driver enjoys turn four because it’s an unusual corner that puts high energies through the car. The rest of the lap is similar to a street circuit. Overtaking has never been easy so there’s extra pressure on getting high up the grid in qualifying.”
Esteban: “After three races in the points I’m feeling happy about my start to the season. At the same time, I feel a bit of disappointment that we haven’t achieved more. With a bit more luck on my side, I would have come away from China and Bahrain with even more points. Finishing tenth three times in a row isn’t enough for me – I want more!
“Sochi is quite a similar circuit to Bahrain with long straights and low-speed corners. It’s a track I know already, because I raced there in GP3, and it’s a nice challenge. I think turn four will feel really cool this year with the downforce we have in these cars and it’s going to be demanding for the front right tyre.
“Performance-wise it’s hard to predict where we will be. We had a good test in Bahrain after the race and we made some progress with the car, but the middle of the grid is very competitive. We have looked stronger in the races compared to qualifying and that’s why we have picked up points in all the races. Getting some more points remains the goal this weekend.”
Brad Joyce, Esteban Ocon’s Race Engineer, talks about the technical challenges of the Sochi Autodrom.
The circuit in Sochi is very challenging for the car and very different from the tracks on which we have raced so far this year. There are a lot of low- and medium-speed corners that require heavy braking; at the same time, you have some very fast corners – turn three and 12 in particular – that can take the life out of the tyres. Fuel management is important as you spend a lot of time on full throttle: this track actually boasts the highest race fuel requirement in the whole calendar. The track surface is smooth and we expect lower tyre degradation compared to the first races of the year, so we are back to the softest compounds of the Pirelli range. Like in Bahrain, proximity to the coast can make this place very windy so we will need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances on Saturday and Sunday.
many low- and medium-speed 90 degree corners
very high full throttle time, highest fuel requirements of the year in the race
smooth tarmac with low tyre degradation