Another weak race shows Sochi is the new Valencia

2016 Russian Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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Sochi Autodrom is the new Valencia. After its first three races the Russian Grand Prix venue has joined the former home of the European Grand Prix among the lowest-ranked on F1 Fanatic’s circuit ratings.

Sunday’s race received an average score of 5.39 out of ten from F1 Fanatic readers, considerably lower than the three previous rounds of the championship. And many of those of you who participated in the latest Rate the Race poll blamed shortcomings in the track design for another uninspiring Russian Grand Prix.

Turn two really annoyed me, the drivers who cut it at the start (Hamilton, Alonso and Grosjean) gained a huge advantage which had a large impact on the final result. This is not how a sport should be.

The poor design of the circuit helped contribute to the unnecessary mess at the start.

Other than that the strategy was hardly exciting, and the racing was simply woeful. Mercedes had such a pace advantage that it was blatantly clear that Hamilton pretty much had second place in the bag.

This race really needed the ultra soft tyre.
Craig Woollard (@craig-o)

Turn two is a regular trouble spot
Pirelli didn’t bring the ultra soft compounds to the race because the teams hadn’t been able to test it before making their tyre choices.

I knew from the start if Bottas failed to jump Rosberg it was going to be a extremely dull race, this track is just terrible.

Current F1 cars just cannot follow through turn two they lose way too much time and downforce on that long corner no matter how much time they gain on other parts of the track it just all gets lost on that corner.

The race in itself was pretty average, but the circuit just makes it seem so dull. Turn two is just terrible: the second apex is just completely unnecessary. The way that corner is designed will always cause issues at the start of the race, and the bollard they added will then cause more trouble in the long left-hander that follows.

Beyond that, the circuit is so wide, the walls are so far away, too much run-off, corners are too similar, too many off-camber corners, pit lane is too long… the list just goes on and on. Earlier today I watched the F4 race at the Sachsenring: it makes Sochi look even more boring. This race is just the case in point that circuits massively contribute to my enjoyment of motor racing.

I also didn’t really enjoy the political flavour at the end of the race. Politics and F1 shouldn’t meet – this grand prix just feels like it belongs in the 1930s.

No event plays the propaganda card as strongly as the Russian Grand Prix, a point which came up in several of your comments. But mostly it was the shortage of action and intrigue which drew your ire:

This race deserves a fail grade. Rubbish track, rubbish tyres, rubbish stewarding, rubbish driving by Kvyat, rubbish everything

Sunday was one of the most boring races I’ve watched in years. I’m a die-hard F1 fan and I found myself switching channels during the race to see what else was on.

This circuit just doesn’t generate good racing, despite everyone’s best efforts. The racing, in this case, further dulled by the first lap incident. After that, there only seemed to be a race for the first half of the distance, Hamilton aside, until his water pressure issue put paid to that.

Such a shame we lost Vettel so early on. He could have saved the race.

To be fair, the non-DRS passes I saw were top drawer. I thoroughly enjoyed them. More none-DRS passes, please! In fact, maybe it’s time to a race or two without DRS, if that can be done fairly and on experimental terms. Just to see…
Andy (@Andybantam)

And the award for most prescient comment of the race goes to:

Kvyat’s days in Red Bull are numbered.

The number was ‘four’.

2016 Rate the Race results

Race Average score
2016 Chinese Grand Prix 7.853
2016 Australian Grand Prix 7.757
2016 Bahrain Grand Prix 7.382
2016 Russian Grand Prix 5.396

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2016 Russian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Another weak race shows Sochi is the new Valencia”

  1. While it’s certainly not the most popular of races I think the results are often skewed because it’s located in Russia. It’s surprising how many people say they’ll vote low because they see putin on tv as opposed to the race itself.

    Regarding turn 2 i think it works well as a setup for some good overtakes around turn 3 but it needs gravel on the run off and at least the ridiculous rule on going round the bollard to be scrapped.

    1. This.

      It’s not that uncommon to see politicians attending Grand Prix’s. Doesn’t seem to bother anyone as long as it’s not Putin, but if it is him then all hell breaks loose.

      The race was mediocre because of the Mercedes’ pace advantage in these colder temperatures and because Pirelli’s tire choices killed the strategic aspect. Despite those things we still got some nice wheel-to-wheel battling here and there. I think Sochi is still far better than what Valencia was.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        6th May 2016, 13:24

        @huhhii – which other politician has been in the room at the end talking to the drivers? Did Obama or Cameron sit next to Bernie and get on camera more than the race winner at Silverstone or COTA?

        If they did, I’d have a similar issue with it! COTA were told to remove the stars and stripes painted on the runoffs because it was too political but a country’s leader being constantly shown and in the green room is OK?

        I agree though, it’s rate the race so Putin shouldn’t come into it. Problem is, at best, the race was a 4/10.

        1. They were told to remove the Stars and Stripes because they were too political? Yet I clearly remember, White, Red and Blue stripes, outside a few of the corners at Sochi.

        2. @petebaldwin Albert II in every Monaco GP comes first to mind. He also gives trophies to drivers. Don’t think anyone has complained about that before…

          1. The Russian GP is very different to simply having a politician or leader on the podium.

            No other race features politicians in the cool down room.

            No other race breaks from live coverage of the race to show the national leader entering the grandstand with a few laps to go, as has occurred at all 3 Russian GPs to date.

            And remember, it was last year’s Russian GP where they introduced the requirement that the drivers stand at the front of the grid to observe the national anthem, after Putin insisted that the Russian anthem be observed by all drivers. Of course, they then introduced that for all subsequent races, to try to hide the obvious kowtowing.

            Let’s not pretend that this particular race doesn’t involve a big dollop of Russian nationalist propaganda being shoved down our throat every year.

        3. Prince William at the British Grand Prix was just as bad, which means not bad at all just some bod there for the media.

    2. Sport is politics, get over it.

    3. @glynh Sorry, can’t agree. Were Valencia’s grades skewed because it’s located in Spain. This track isn’t any better in any aspect, that’s why it gets poor grades. I was the first to shout to give it the benefit of the doubt when people were dismissing it before it’s first race even, because of track design(no one was dismissing it because it’s in Russia). Those dismissing were right and I was wrong

      Your comment is like those accusing F1Fanatic to be biased because it’s a British site, despite the audience here being truly international-baseless

      1. @Montreal95 My point isn’t that anyone’s biased towards countries it’s that in the comments about sochi, including on this page and the rate the race page, people are very vocal about the politics.
        If you remember in 2014 and still now to a lesser extent people boycotted watching the race and said they voted lower because putin had air time.

        1. @glynh I’m sure there were some people like what you describe, but their numbers are insignificant. How do we know that? Because otherwise its grades would be even lower. It certainly doesn’t deserve any significant grade raise from what it’s got, completely puttin’ politics aside(couldn’t resist a bad pun , sorry)

          1. Fair enough @montreal95 you’ve got a point and I can’t argue with a good pun. :)

      2. When BCE falls in about eight months time, Putin’s annual attempted
        propaganda exercise will begin to crumble and die…..hopefully.
        Many in F1 are extremely uncomfortable with blatant misuse being made
        every year by this ugly regime.

  2. To be fair, this race was way more interesting than the first two Russian GP’s.

    1. The 2nd race (2015) was better than this year’s edition.
      I’d rate the Russian GPs in this order:
      1. 2015
      2. 2016
      3. 2014

    2. @paeschli I disagree. It’s in the middle. 2015 was better. 2014 was worse

  3. For me, part of the reason the Russian race is very lacklustre is the setting. Concrete, buildings and miles of run off area. Even though it’s in Sochi, there’s very little of the landscape close to the track. Settings like Melbourne, Montreal, Spa and a few others should be the template Tilke uses when looking to build a track. I’m veering off on a tangent here but so tired of seeing tracks that look like they’re built in an industrial complex.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      6th May 2016, 13:25

      To be fair though, Tilke didn’t pick the location. Putin did.

    2. Probably camera angles it looks nice with mountains, the sea etc, Silverstone for me is probably the most drab for surroundings.

    3. The best race in that respect is probably Austria, followed closely by Spa when it’s sunny at least!

    4. The feel of the setting should improve when it becomes a night race though.

      Also,if they remove some of the curbs and just let the walls form the natural track limits it woud feel less like a parkinglot with a track painted on it.

      I think under the spotlights with a few changes, like making the ugly double 90 degree right hander into one sweeping sling with the outside walls being the edge of the track, would improve the spectacle hugenoten. A crash or two will also neutralize the race more often, keeping the racing close

    5. Ju88sy (@)
      7th May 2016, 7:08

      Agreed the circuit has no charisma, it doesn’t help that right by the water it’s so flat as well.

  4. I gave the race a 6 because I found it reasonably entertaining, but I fully agree that Sochi is the new Valencia. If the vote was about the track, it would be a 2 at most. The turn 2 shortcut is awful, how can you spend millions for building a new track and not think about that ?

  5. I think pirelli should have brought the new tires in russia exactly because the teams have not tested them. One of the issue in f1 is that there are rarely any surprises because the teams can prepare so well and every little detail is well known and come the qualifying and raceday there is nothing that can surprise the teams.

    A tire of course need to be tested so we know it is safe but does it actually make f1 better or worse if the teams know so well how the tires work? One idea I’ve been thinking about is to have essentially infinite range of tires from soft to hard. Then never use the exact same tire compound for two races in the season. Always use a tire that is tiny bit softer or harder just to make the tires more predictable and give the teams little less info to pick the absolutely best strategies.

    1. Meant to say “just to make the tires more UNpredictable”

    2. @socksolid

      I think the amount of practice we have is FAR too much. 4hrs all told. We could make do with half of that I’m sure, and there’d be no discernible difference. Actually, if anything, history proves that LESS practice makes for MORE exciting races!

      Personally, I think 2hrs practice on a Saturday morning would work pretty well, 9:30-11:30 say, and then turn Friday’s into a “Fan’s Friday.” We have media day on Thursday, so why not have a fan’s day on Friday? Meet the driver’s, tour’s through the garages, pit-lane, paddock, Q&A’s, that kind of thing. Connect with the fans.

      I think both those moves would contribute to a far better weekend both on and off the track. You’ve got MORE interaction with the fans, and LESS data-gathering/analysing time/opportunities for the Engineers in and between sessions, which makes for more entertaining races.

      1. I’ll wait for Bernie’s death to see if any of your fan centered ideas come to fruit.

      2. The biggest issue with less practise might be that the cars are on the track less which not might be ideal for the spectators and track owners. Both who want to have and sell more tickets to more sessions. Maybe if f1 weekend could be made shorter it might allow (even) more races?

        I’m not really sure if the one 2 hour session would be the right way to go. Maybe two 1 hour sessions for friday and saturday (one in each day).

        Fan friday probably would work fine as a local event. Probably not a televised event so that already makes bernie uninterested lol. Would still be fun if there was a some kind of fan event. Like put the drivers into hot hatches and let them have a short race. Or something. Hopefully something that is fun for the drivers themselves too with not too many interviews.

  6. This years race could have been spectacular…. but oh well it wasnt.

  7. Sergey Martyn
    6th May 2016, 14:31

    Being a Russian I agree that this yet another tilkedrome is quite boring – a lot of the action can be seen on TV screens only.
    The same is with Moscow Raceway which is about 60 miles from Moscow to start with and is even more boring though DTM races there produce some sparks and action at the end of main staright.
    There was a greatd project back in 90’s to build a track about 10 minutes drive from Kremlin and it was pretty exciting – can’t understand why it was abandoned. The place where it was planned to be built is still a frigging wasteland good enough only to film low-grade post-apocalyptic video clips.

  8. Victor (@victorandrei1999)
    6th May 2016, 14:31

    I don’t think that Sochi and Valencia are bad tracks , but for the last weekend’s race I think that Pirelli did a mistake. Last year , with the same tyres Fernando Alonso did 40 laps. So it was a bad choice. The difference between the first three races and this race is that for Russia teams couldn’t play too much with strategies

  9. Track isn’t exciting at all. I nearly fell asleep!

    Putin… well, he and Bernie should go start their own colony on Antartica. Or the sun.

  10. It was just dreadfully dull after lap 1. I did literally fall asleep during the race – I am in Singapore so it was mid-evening after dinner – but still never happened to me before. Enough said really.

  11. Oxymoron anyone.
    7th May 2016, 13:18

    The unelected Tyrants of the gulf with their 15 wives locked away god knows where are 😎 but Putin. Ohhhh.

  12. I don’t blame the mangled start on turn 2. I blame it on too many drivers not having sufficient intelligence to understand what a race is. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of auto racing yet almost every race sees some incredibly stupid crashes usually from back markers who think they can win the race on lap 1. Were I a team owner I would be very severe with any driver who crashed or caused one in the first lap! Unless it was from mechanical failure.

  13. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
    8th May 2016, 8:21

    This deserved to be weak because of Vettel’s angry team radio. I cringed when I listened to that.

  14. Michael Brown (@)
    9th May 2016, 20:35

    I think Valencia should have been the Spanish Grand Prix, not Catalunya

Comments are closed.