Sochi Autodrom track map

2017 Russian Grand Prix track preview

2017 Russian Grand Prix

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Like Spain’s former F1 venue in Valencia, the Sochi Autodrom is something of a faux street track.

The home of the Russian Grand Prix has the trappings of a temporary course: a slow, compromised layout which is hemmed in by barriers. But it offers the width and purpose-laid asphalt normally seen on a modern track.

Unfortunately, as was the case with Valencia, this adds up to the worst of both worlds. It’s not a particularly spectacular course for the world’s best racing cars, nor does it tend to provoke exciting races.

The very low-grip surface tends to exacerbate these problems. For F1’s fourth visit to the track Pirelli is offering its softest available tyres, but they may still be able to last half a race.

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A lap of Sochi Autodrom

With turn one no more than an acceleration zone, drivers have a one-kilometre run from the starting grid to the first significant corner at Sochi Autodrom. Turn two has been a major problem zone since F1 first visited the track, and begs the question why a better solution couldn’t have been found on a new circuit.

Track data: Sochi Autodrom

Lap length5.848km (3.634 miles)
Grand prix distance309.745km (192.467 miles)
Lap record (race)1’39.094 (Nico Rosberg, 2016)
Fastest lap (any session)1’35.337 (Nico Rosberg, 2016, qualifying two)
2016 Rate the Race5.4 out of 10
2016 Driver of the WeekendKevin Magnussen

Sochi Autodrom track data in full

First-lap incidents are a common problem as driver funnel into the tight bend. The generous asphalt run-off offers no penalty for drivers running wide, and attempts to police this using ‘return routs’ on the outside have been mixed. Keep an eye out for more trouble this weekend.

Turn three rates as the most interesting bend on the track. The low-speed approach takes some of the bite out of it, but this year’s quicker cars should be spectacular through here. The corner punishes understeer, but the shortened braking zone for turn four should make the exit of the turn easier.

From here the drivers tackle a series of similar, medium-to-low speed right-and-left turns with little to distinguish them. Turn ten is the important one, as it precedes the long acceleration zone through two flat-out sweeps into turn 13. The approach to this corner vies with the start of the lap as the fastest point on the track, and is where Carlos Sainz Jnr has his huge crash in 2015.

An even tighter, slower section follows next, the cars navigating yet more 90-degree turns as they make their way back to the start/finish straight. It adds up to a track which is far from being the most spectacular or demanding on the calendar.

It’s Valencia by the Black Sea, then. But don’t forget even Valencia’s last F1 race was a cracker.

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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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9 comments on “2017 Russian Grand Prix track preview”

  1. Michael Brown (@)
    26th April 2017, 14:25

    Turn 2 is garbage. Just make it a 90 degree corner. It’s like Bahrain’s turn 2 but you can cut it without consequence.

    1. Turn 2/3 really is rubbish. But it already is a 90 degree corner. The reason why it immediately kinks left is because there is a whacking big ice rink (or whatever it is) on the outside of the track. So the layout is going to have to stay, but I’d like to see a nice freshly mown lawn laid out on the inside of the turn 3 kink, instead of the ‘get out of jail’ car park with a little cone that is currently there.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        26th April 2017, 19:41

        @unicron2002 You mean the building near the apex? I see that. But why can’t the kink be a smooth bend? Or what if the outside of turn 2 was widened by a few metres, removing the kink altogether?

  2. Drivers were super cautious last year after the GP2 carnage. In fact a lot of the derring do has been engineered (sic) out of the sport by the Physics teachers back in the pit. Now people talk about a 3 x WDC being severely reprimanded for daring to back the pack up against some geekoids order.

  3. What irks me most about Sochi is that the circuit could be improved by literally doing nothing more than painting white lines in a different place (particularly at T2,3,5,6 & 11).

    1. The only real way to improve Sochi is to turn all the angled corners in to fast sweepers or to completely redesign it and lay it out elsewhere in that area. It is that bad.

  4. What’s wrong with the tarmac that it offers so little grip? The low-grip low-degradation surface is maybe even the worst thing of this rather poor track.

    1. The same reason for all the unused circuits, they dont get rubbered in and with only 2 other categorises running over the weekend. Track evolution is one of the most significant of all the grand prixs.

  5. ah, that valencia race really was a corker. although it did require vettel’s retirement for alonso to win, the scenes at the end were remarkable. what a podium as well! i think it’s one of my favourite races of the last few years.

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