Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

F1 tried to extend Sochi DRS zone for race

2018 Russian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 tried to extend the DRS zone approaching turn two at Sochi after drivers complained it was too short following Friday practice.

The zone approaching turn two was extended ahead of last weekend’s race. FIA race director Charlie Whiting said Sunday’s race indicated it does need to be extended but there’s wasn’t time to do it ahead of Saturday’s running.

“This is something that the drivers brought up,” he said. “They were saying based on what they felt on Friday that it could be longer.

“It proved impossible to do overnight, there are too many systems that needed to be changed, new loops would have had to be installed. It really wasn’t practical to try to do it for Saturday.”

Race winner Lewis Hamilton said he was one of the drivers who argued for the DRS zone to be made longer.

“I did ask Charlie if he could bring the DRS even earlier, because that maybe would encourage overtaking,” he said. “You need to be 1.4 seconds faster than the car in front of you – and when you’re racing with someone you’re not 1.4s faster than him – to overtake.”

Hamilton suggested an unorthodox solution for the difficulty drivers have overtaking in Sochi. “I was just saying they should do it in reverse,” he said.

“Go backwards. Go the other way around the track, so you have the slow section first and then the fast sections.

“I don’t know if it’ll make a difference. But otherwise they’ve got to change the track to make it more racing-like. There are circuits that have which have a much smaller delta to overtake.”

Whiting believes there’s a “peculiarity to the tyres and how they work on this particular track” which explains why drivers find it so hard to pass at Sochi.

“I think that’s probably made it more difficult. We will of course look to see if we can do it for next year and we’ll be discussing other reasons why it hasn’t actually worked very well here.”

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15 comments on “F1 tried to extend Sochi DRS zone for race”

  1. Neil (@neilosjames)
    2nd October 2018, 10:00

    I wouldn’t mind san extended DRS zone for Sochi. Maybe extend it a dozen or so miles away from the Olympic Park and make a new track in the countryside closer to the mountains.

    Think that’s the only way to properly fix it.

  2. Interesting suggestion by Hamilton to reverse the layout. I’m not sure it would help, because it would still be 90-degrees corners leading to a straight followed by a 90-degree corner. But imagine following someone through (now named) ultra-fast corner 3, a smoothened corner 2 and than slipstreaming to the finish straight. That would be mega.

    1. That might actually work. Even if they didn’t reprofile 2, it could provide just enough of a chance for a following driver to throw it up the inside as they come out from 3 (in the same way LeClerc and Hamilton made passes in turn 4)—and that would leave drivers in front with the choice of defending the inside at the cost of compromising their run down the main straight.

      It also got me thinking about what other tracks might benefit from running in reverse. I think Yas Marina would be great that way—here’s a reverse hot lap from one of the recent F1 games. Corners 2-3-4 are much more interesting the other way around, with each corner tightening as the speeds ratchet up and 2 being very fast and nearly blind. You could also get rid of both of the “notches” in the layout that are there for lack of runoff (5/6 and 11/12/13).

      To take it one step further, if you could eliminate corners 8/9 and replace it with a flat out kink like 130R, you could create one 2 km straight with a mega braking zone at the hairpin and suddenly you’d have a very Baku-esque circuit, with a huge contrast between the slow and fast portions of the circuit that would require some setup compromises.

      1. @markzastrow Baku is also great backwards.

    2. drivers have overtaking in Sochi. “I was just saying they should do it in reverse,”

      He probably meant half the drivers doing it in reverse and overtake the other half twice a lap ;)
      @matthijs

  3. I find it odd Charlie says there’s something peculiar with the tyres at this particular track. I’ve heard plenty of times drivers saying they can’t push for too long because the tyres overheat and then they are gone, and not just at this particular track.

    Hamilton’s solution would be impossible to do anyway. The run off areas are designed for the clockwise direction of travel, not the other way around. Specially the main straight, they’d encounter a 90 degrees left hander with a wall milimeters from the edge of the track.

    I don’t mind Sochi because it’s horrible for racing, but they recycled an old Olympic Park, so what did we expect? at least they were somewhat forced to shape it like it is, unlike Yas Marina which was a clean sheet of paper and they managed to do it just as bad anyway.

  4. Sochi is a rubbish circuit. Bar turn five, it’s the worst circuit i’ve seen in F1 in the last decade. But i’ll try focus on a positive solution, bagging Sochi is easy…

    Looking at the circuit, turns two and three would be re-profiled and be a bit more like turns one and two at Bahrain. Plenty of passing there! i’d tighten turn six thus extending the braking zone into this corner. The following straight would turn right soon after the exit of six, so turn seven goes around the Bolshoy Ice Dome, creating a similar corner to turn five. Turns eight and nine would be the double left hander and be taken more quickly than currently allows. I’d extend the following straight and thus tighten turn 10, before the long back straight. Turns 11 and 12 can stay the same, but then have a straight run all the way to the penultimate corner, wiping out those two 90 deg botch jobs. This will also make the penultimate turn a non-90 degree job. Am mindful this probably interferes with the paddock complex.

    I’d like to see this become a thread/comp or something… solutions get traction!

    DRS is a bandaid solution. Let’s stop looking for bigger bandaids. I’m terrified DRS won’t be reduced to a sensible level in 2019.

  5. I feel like the battle is lost for the sensible people who hate DRS and want the gimmicky nightmare to be binned. the powers that be seem to be helplessly addicted to it, using it to justify returning to these rubbish circuits. however, the real problem is aero. it has been since i’ve been following the sport (1995). the return to wide track cars creates a bigger slipstream, ostensibly a good thing, but that just means the motorway-style passes are even more likely.

    we got good racing in monza because the DRS effect was limited, the tow was actually less effective (because the car in front also had low drag inherit to the setup), and because the braking zones are long. F1 is in a quandary at the moment because it demands it must be the fastest formula on the planet – it achieves this through aero and that is bad for following.

    still, I don’t think we would be arguing about this quite so much if we had a competitive field. at the moment it’s as bad as the days of the jim clark cup.

  6. Once again, the cars are the real problem, not the tracks. Fix them first, and only then alter the circuits if necessary, not the other way round.

  7. Having the track in reverse is nigh-on impossible unless you completely re-do the barrier layout. There are gaps created in between the rails to allow for emergency vehicles to gain access to the track quickly, and also remove vehicles off track. These are angled for one direction only, and are the biggest reason we don’t see many multi directional tracks.

    1. @ecwdanselby I agree, as I said above. But you made me think, other than Indianapolis where the road course goes one way and the oval the other (and I think also the MotoGP layout runs in the same direction to the oval) I can’t think of any other circuit which is multidirectional

      1. I believe Misano swapped directions for the MotoGP. Not sure if that involved re-doing the barriers, or whether it was something that was considered from the get go.

  8. No surprise that they tried to do this. Crushingly disappointing to hear the world champion (and IMO the best driver) argue for the DRS zone to be made longer. DRS has been irretrievably spliced into the DNA of F1. #FML

  9. Would have been unnecessary & probably only made passing too easy, Which at times it already was with the DRS zones as they were (Especially in the F2 races which I can’t even be bothered to watch in full anymore as I hate the way the ‘racing’ is now. Just stick to the short F1TV highlights to see the results).

    I thought there was a decent level of overtakes anyway, Verstappen was obviously the stand out over the 1st part of the race but there was some good racing through the mid-field with a few good overtakes & some less good one’s thanks to DRS but I digress.

  10. Lewis Hamilton said it was going to be a boring race for the fans. Not the best advert for formula one. I watched the start then changed channels. Still on a positive note Japan next!

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