Igora Drive

Igora Drive to replace Sochi as home of Russian Grand Prix in 2023

2023 F1 season

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Next year’s Russian Grand Prix will be the last to take place at its current home in Sochi before the race moves to a recently-built circuit near St Petersburg.

The Igora Drive circuit, which gained the necessary FIA grade one licence to hold Formula 1 races last year, will hold the Russian Grand Prix from 2023.

Formula 1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali revealed the decision in a recent visit to the area.

“I am pleased to confirm following joint intensive work with our Russian partners and detailed assessment of Igora Drive [that] Formula 1 will be racing at that amazing circuit from 2023,” Domenicali is quoted by the circuit as saying. “I am impressed by Saint Petersburg and believe that the Russian Grand Prix at Igora Drive will be an incredible event.”

F1 said in a statement it is “delighted to confirm that the Russian Grand Prix will move to the Autodrom Igora Drive in Saint Petersburg from 2023.”

“We will be providing more details on the race in the coming months and we are looking forward to racing in Sochi for the next two years,” the series added.

The four-kilometre, 15-turn circuit was designed by Tilke Gmbh. It lies around 50 kilometres from Saint Petersburg, the second-largest city in Russia.

Philipp Eng, Rene Rast, Daniel Juncadella, DTM, Igora Drive, 2019
Analysis: The Saint Petersburg track which may replace Sochi
Sochi’s temporary circuit, based around the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, will hold the Russian Grand Prix for the eighth time this year. Its deal to hold the race runs until 2025.

The recently-completed Igora Drive was due to hold a round of Germany’s touring car championship, the DTM, in May last year. However the event was cancelled four months before it was due to go ahead.

Updated to include official statement from Formula 1.

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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...
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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34 comments on “Igora Drive to replace Sochi as home of Russian Grand Prix in 2023”

  1. What is this, first some good changes to Abu Dhabi and now we are getting rid of Sochi, one of the worst tracks on the calendar? Yay!

    1. It surely can’t be any worse than Sochi, the only way to go is up.

      Reply moderated
    2. Indeed. Hadn’t been expecting that. Good news, this track looks like a real race track

    3. Hundred times better than Sochi.

  2. Great, wish it happened sooner. I remember the DTM drivers spoke very enthusiastically about the circuit before (not) going there, so I’m hopeful it will be a worthy addition to the calendar.

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    26th June 2021, 8:49

    Track looks very nice from that top-shot, but I also kinda like Sochi. May not always provide the most exciting races, but it is nice to race on (at least virtually)

  4. I read about a potential elongation for MotoGP, and there are some alternative layouts which give a hint about what could be done.

  5. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    26th June 2021, 8:55

    That’s some excellent news. Sochi has been a horrible venue for Formula 1 and personally i consider it a totally unsafe circuit (and definitely not a Grade 1 circuit). I consider Sochi as the worst venue F1 has raced in the 21st century

    As for Igora Drive, it’s a brand new, “traditional” circuit with limited overtaking spots, but it doesn’t look that bad over one lap. There haven’t been any races there, but from some exhibition laps available online, it looks decent.

    I think that both Igora Drive and Kymiring at Finland, could have been much better if they had plans of hosting F1 races as well

    1. Monaco disputes your claims of ‘worst venue’ and ‘totally unsafe’.

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        26th June 2021, 9:48

        Nah, it’s obviously not good racing wise but I can’t see how it’s unsafer

        1. @miltosgreekfan I can’t see how Aochi is less safe? It has miles of runoff at most corners, and the ones where it doesn’t, such as T3, have TechPro barriers that soften the impact very well, while Monaco is still wrapped around in Armco

        2. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
          26th June 2021, 10:25

          I see 3-4 significant safety issues with Sochi.
          Turn 1 during the race start can cause a big pile up(like in GP3), turn 2 is really tight for cars to safely fit in.
          The runoff at turn 3 is minimal and the crash at F2 last year proved how dangerous it can be when something goes wrong.

          Then,turn 15 has extremely limited runoff for the speeds they approach.

          As we saw with Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain, we must think of the unexpected and Sochi isn’t up to standards IMO

          1. Did you see the Porsche and Euro F3 races at Monaco?
            And you’re concerned about insufficient runoff/space at Sochi?

            Answer me this question – if both Monaco and Sochi came to you asking for approval to hold an F1 race for the first time today, which one would you feel safer with?
            If your answer in Monaco, then I don’t think I need to say anything else on this subject.

      2. I don’t side with you. And I will never side with you regarding Nikita. Never in my life. Enjoy the United States GP you punk.

  6. Only two overtaking spots for F1, and both together.
    But I guess it’s not the circuit’s fault that F1 cars are rubbish race cars.

    1. Good luck trying to shut down the angry people.

  7. For real? This isn’t a late 1.4 joke? I know I’m in the minority, but I quite like Sochi Autodrom. Yes, not the best, but a decent-ish flow, so I will slightly miss it. Sochi Autodrom seemingly hasn’t had financial issues, so surprising. BTW, the track isn’t temporary as such as it isn’t in regular traffic use.

    1. @jerejj I normally associate circuit flow with corners that aren’t copy-paste versions of each other, but what do I know.

  8. Hallelujah!!!

    Another reason for Bottas to leave Merc?

  9. As enthusiastic as I am about Sochi being gone and me being able to go to a race in my own (albeit former) country (never considered Sochi for it cos I didnt like the money shower that the Olympics and the f1 circuit were)…
    ..the layout leaves a bit of doubt in me so far. Also, it’s not really a private enterprise it’s advertised to be anw :)

  10. Interesting. Sochi and the Russian GP is one of those ones I overlook when requesting days off work, it’s that dull. This track at least looks like a proper traditional circuit of old. Lots of sweeping fast corners and the entire track looks pretty intense from what I can see here. Nice! So thankful it isn’t another street circuit built on a grid iron street layout!

  11. So how’s that fitting in to the calendar then? This year’s Russian GP is on the 26th September, which wouldn’t be frozen or anything in St. Petersburg but it’s definitely colder than F1 usually likes for race weekends.

    1. @Ilanin I reckon Igora Drive will be in the summer, perhaps paired with Baku.

  12. Pit exit looks dangerous from that aerial pic. Rejoining before the apex of a fast turn 2, on the inside?
    Sochi isnt great, but its def not as bad as ppl make it out to be. At least passing is possible there

    1. I disagree, seems fine to me. The racing line is on the left and while they go left at the end of the straight they have a view of the pit exit so they know what/who’s coming. Also the pit exit is actually a longer straight than the track so they will filter in with sufficient speed.

      What I like most about a new track is the lack of data. See who gets it right who gets it wrong, tire life predictions.. stuff like that.

    2. It can’t be worse than Portamoa.

  13. Good news.
    Was expecting this, but not until 2026. I wonder what the tipping point was for ripping up 2 years of the existing contract?

    1. Promoter is same. So probably up to promoter what track to offer for GP.

  14. Excellent! Sochi is terrible and this new track looks pretty good.

  15. Sergey Martyn
    26th June 2021, 12:32

    The track itself looks OK but can’t understand why the chose that location in the middle of nowhere. Do they expect fans camping in tents in nearby forests in a company of mooses? And there is a local joke about St. Pete’s climate:

    Yesterday the St. Petersburg inhabitants were amazed by an unusual natural phenomenon – the clouds parted and a bright flaming ball appeared in the sky.

    So expect all the races there to be wet and very cold no matter summer or fall. Few years ago I visited St. Pete at the end of June and it was +13 and raining. Remember it is on the same parallel as Alaska, Hudson bay in Canada, Oslo, Greenland and Orkney islands, UK so it will be most northern F1 track.

  16. Good news for the Finnish fans, only 150km from the Finnish border.

  17. This is great news! I’m surprised Igora Drive has been ovelooked up to this point in favor of Sochi. I would think attendance of an event near St Petersburg would be far greater than a race at Sochi in the middle of nowhere on the east bank of the Black Sea near Georgia, nevermind the likely improved racing.

  18. I’d prefer Moscow Raceway, as it’s closer to me. Igora Drive is 70 km to north of Saint Petersburg, so it’s not on Moscow – Saint Petersburg railway. And it’s 4 km from nearest railway platform. So can’t be easily visited by HSR train. Both tracks are Grade 1 and both are just 4 km long. Igora Drive promising to extend it. But Moscow Raceway can be extended either.

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