Russell proposed Bahrain-style redesign for Sochi’s “terrible” turn two

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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George Russell described turn two at the Sochi Autodrom as “one of the worst corners of the calendar” following yesterday’s Russian Grand Prix.

The first significant corner on the track, which was built six years ago, has been a focus of criticism following a series of incidents.

Russell revealed he proposed a redesign of the corner, scene of several incidents in recent years, in a drivers briefing earlier this season.

“Turn two of this circuit is firstly one of the worst corners of the calendar,” he said. “And secondly, for racing, is a terrible design.

“I actually suggested this in a drivers’ briefing earlier in the season: We’ve got the room and the space to create almost a Bahrain-style turn one and two, going into a kink, which will allow drivers to lunge one another into turn one to get better racing and also avoid people having to cut the track.”

Throughout the weekend drivers struggled to obey the track limits at turn two and many had lap times deleted for running wide. Drivers also criticised the layout of the blocks in the run-off which they had to drive through if they left the circuit. Carlos Sainz Jnr crashed heavily at that point on the track on the first lap of the race.

Sochi is regarded as one of the more difficult circuits to overtake on. Russell said altering this corner could contribute to more wheel-to-wheel racing.

“When you go into a 90-degree corner that actually tightens up on itself, when you’re three or four abreast obviously cars are going to get pushed off.

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“I made a really good start. I just kept it absolutely pinned. I was alongside the McLarens and I braked really late. I was right behind Gasly but unfortunately, there were three cars on the inside of me and somebody pushed Norris off, which then pushed me off.”

Start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019
Russell suggested using Bahrain’s turn one as a model
Daniel Ricciardo collected a five-second time penalty for running wide at the corner. The Renault driver also advocated changes to the corner in order to improve the racing as well as the policing of track limits.

“I think they could do something better with it in general,” said Ricciardo. “Even just to allow more overtaking, maybe a different shape corner, less of a short apex.

“They’ve got quite a bit of room to play with. We have talked about it in the past. And maybe that would also eliminate the issue that we’re having with this cut-through.”

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi admitted that scope exists for improvement at the corner.

“Turn two has been one of those that’s been a challenge in different ways each year,” he said. “You fix things in one way and has another impact in another.

“So we’re trying to find the best solution and I think we’ve found a reasonable solution. Is there room for improvement? Yes, there’s always room for improvement.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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31 comments on “Russell proposed Bahrain-style redesign for Sochi’s “terrible” turn two”

  1. Can you guys asked George to made twitch session about how Sochi Turn 2 should look like? Preferably graphics by RaceFans of course.

  2. If they also change the last two turn from 2x 90 into 1 x180 i would be glad.

    1. A Russian Peraltada? If only!

  3. .

    The only race run on the background set of three StarWars films. What a crazy looking place. The challenge is good and the “oval” is a mess.

  4. I’m still going to propose the same as before: Make the track a lot wider after T2 and remove the small kink. This would mean less runoff after T2 and into T3 on the left-hand side, but keep the same amount that directly faces the running direction into T2.

  5. Simply plant the grass in turn 2. Just leave the straight line of asphalt in case of breaks failure, but rest should be in grass.

    1. This is my feeling entirely, @regs. Look at how the drivers managed to miraculously police themselves at Monza/Mugello – why? Natural consequences.

      From what i’ve played (and I stress played), I actually really enjoy T2 in to 3. You get it right, and it’s really rewarding.

  6. But that’s not all. Second sector should be 10-11 meters wide. 90 deg corners are too fast, 200 km/h. They should be 90 km/h, so it could be possible to overtake in every corner.

    1. @regs Aero is the problem, not the corners.

  7. Sochi’s turn two is horrible, I found myself shouting at the tv at times. It needs to go, unfortunately there is little room for a big revamp. There is no room for a Bahrain-type of sequence because of the Olympic Games buildings that are scattered around the area. The ‘Iceberg Skate Palace’ is in the way. And there is not enough runoff to move turn 2 further down the road.

    1. It needs a long runnoff atm @matthijs because the barrier is square on. If they angle it, it can be a lot closer.

      1. @zann Yes you are right. But then they have to demolish one of the biggest grand stands so I doubt it is considered as a option.

        1. I think George’s idea leaves that grandstand @matthijs, and takes the track curving both ways basically through that runoff. The Bahrain corner is like 135 degrees so there’s no benefit trying to cut it. Tho as you say there isn’t as much space.

          1. @zann I am not sure it would work, but it would be so much better than the atrocity that it is now so I cheer for it.

          2. We need LEWIS to say something about it @matthijs :)

          3. @zann I am sure Lewis is in favour, as long as there is a decent spot to practice starts! :)

  8. I’ve seen worse corners in other F1 circuits.
    The challenge is exacerbated by the FIA’s approach to policing track limits at that location.

    1. I think this is the big problem here – I don’t think it’s so much the corner itself, it’s everything around it.

  9. I agree. As I understand it, say you have a white line, then a curb that the drivers are allowed to drive onto so they’re beyond the white line, then that’s allowed, but then if they go off the curb they’re considered as having exceeded the track limits. I think they should just shift the white line to the other side of the curb, so you have the curb and then the white line, so when a driver goes beyond the curb they’re also beyond the white line designating the track limits. Then you don’t need special rules about that corner, you don’t need to make special mention of these special rules at the drivers’ briefings, you just use the regular rules.

  10. It’s a car park. May as well go back to caesers palace car park and it’s just as exciting as this Sochi track. If the most interesting and challenging thing about the track is the bumps that have appeared over the last couple of years, then you’ve got a problem. They could have done so much with this space yet we were left with this. Typical F1

  11. Perhaps move the grid and the start/finish line / gantry, etc a couple of hundred yards further down the front straight, then the field won’t be arriving at such a high speed. You’re never going to completely eliminate first corner incidents of course, but if the entry speed wasn’t so high and there was less emphasis on getting a slipstream, then it might give the drivers more scope to work out where to place themselves..

  12. Here we are again, one bad race and lets change something.

    1. Sochi’s one of the worst circuits on the calendar, it’s ranked 28/29 since 2008 on the Rate the Race page…

    2. In addition to what @alec-glen writes, note that the article has this bit

      I actually suggested this in a drivers’ briefing earlier in the season

      (emphasis mine) ie. it’s not something he cooked up after one bad race, it’s something the drivers talked about before with the FIA.

  13. I think a much better change would be to simply not race on this track which I think is by far the worst circuit on the F1 calendar closely followed by Abu Dhabi.

    There 2 circuits with no redeeming features just like Valencia where I don’t think any alterations could improve them. Yes maybe altering 1-2 corners could help the racing a bit but the circuits itself would be still be horrendously awful in every other regard.

  14. Canada’s wall of fame! Yey baby change that too!

  15. They should listen to F1 drivers more. Ricciardo has f.i. mentioned more use of cambered corners and we saw how well that worked in Mugello.

    This is of course not only in Russia, but I remember stories from the Olympics here in Sochi how Russians needed everything to come from the highest order even if it was obvious stuff, so in this case they would probably have had Todt or Carey relate it to the state governor or what and that is not likely.

  16. There is only one change needed at Sochi. Don’t ever go back there again.
    If Putin wants to play F1 then come better prepared and build a purpose built track that reflects the needs of today’s racing.
    Stop countries from offering anymore Football stadium locations as the best choice to build from. Let Mugello ring loud and clear. More natural environments
    instead of concrete villages because they are convenient and easier to sell the ticket.
    I didn’t care for the Sochi event from day one when it was known as the Grand Prix de Putin

  17. Yes, there’s always room for improvement

    Except when it comes to reviewing safety car restarts eh Masi?

  18. They should change all of those corners (except Turn 3 obviously) and made them faster, get rid of the right-left-left-right behind the pits (if possible) and make the last 2 corners a 180 degree corner, like the Peraltada or the last corner at Vallelunga. Sochi is such a bad track and is so unworthy of F1- it is embarassing that it is on the calendar.

    1. And make Turn 2 a flat out, 8th gear right hander. Wouldn’t that be something… (maybe a little dangerous, especially for starts)

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