The Sochi Autodrom circuit was created around the Sochi Olympic Park, a group of facilities built for hosting the Winter Olympic Games which ended on 23 February 2014. The organizers had to win a real race against time to ensure that the circuit was ready for its first edition in October of the same year.
The layout unfolds along 5848 meters: its characteristic is given by a prevalence of 90 ° corners with only the very long left bend in the first sector (curve-3) as an exception (with its 650 meters of extension it holds the record for being the longest in the world). 18 hairpin corners in total, 12 of which on the right and 6 on the left.
The most interesting section is certainly the first sector. After having covered the first straight (about 1.2 km if we consider that Turn-1 is a slight bend to the right to be taken in full) the drivers find themselves facing the mighty braking of Turn-2, a real funnel at the first lap, which takes them in the beautiful Turn 3 hairpin that is covered in full acceleration up to the braking of corner 4.
The last two sectors are rather “monotonous” with a predominance of 90 ° turns. If you are strong in a corner, you are strong in practically all of them. On the contrary, if the driver fails to develop the right feeling with the car, reaching the end of the weekend can be quite stressful and complicated. The semi-straight section dividing Turn 10 from Turn 12 will allow the drivers to slow down the pace before launching into the final part of the track.
The third sector represents the most technical part. Contrary to the previous sector, cornering speeds are lower, the rear tires tend to overheat, facilitating the sliding of the car. Managing the tires well will be a crucial factor in achieving a great lap, especially in qualifying.
F1 – 2021 Russian GP preview: aerodynamics and DRS
Given the layout of the track, the team technicians will try to win the Sochi challenge by focusing on a medium downforce setup. A technical choice that will guarantee the right amount of load in the many medium-fast corners while at the same time will drivers to enjoy a good top speed in the two straights of the track. In addition to this, it will be necessary to look for good mechanical traction, useful for overcoming the last more technical sector, and to have a stable car under braking.
Two of the three most sought-after overtaking points by the drivers can only be guaranteed by the DRS sections located on the straight that runs alongside the pits and on the extension that connects turn-10 to turn-12. The other will take place at the detachment from turn-4. The speed delta provided by the mobile wing is around 12-14 km / h. The tow effect will be very noticeable in Sochi, especially at the start when the poleman is never the real favorite to be in first position at the exit of turn-2.
F1 – 2021 Russian GP preview: power unit
Contrary to what one might hypothesize looking at the layout of the circuit, the endothermic will work at full capacity for about 70% of the lap time. Among the highest values among those seen on the calendar (comparable to Monza, where 60 seconds are exceeded). For this reason, the commitment on the part of the MGU-H component will be quite burdensome: 3586 KJ per lap.
The contribution from MGU-K will also be important: there are 899 KJs that it will be able to recover thanks above all to the two big braking sections that will take place in Turn-2 and Turn-13. In this way it will be possible to regenerate a total of 4485 KJ which in terms of timing and speed will result in a reduction in lap time of 3 seconds and an increase in top speed of 21 km / h. The power effect on this track is also quite sensitive: 0.20 seconds of gain every 10 HP.
F1 – 2021 Russian GP preview: fuels and transmission
The Russian track has always been considered an appointment in which teams have to keep fuel consumption under control. Obviously the 110 kg made available by the tank capacity are more than enough to complete the test. However, trying to eliminate some weight will prove essential in any case since 10 kg here will allow a gain of about 0.22 ” of lap time.
For this reason, teams have always used the strategy of starting the race with less fuel than necessary. This will put the drivers in the position of having to try to save fuel during the race phases, perhaps hoping for an intervention by the Safety Car (always very likely in Sochi).
With its approximately 2,500 gear changes planned for the entire race distance, we can define the Sochi circuit as being on average demanding for the transmission. A value higher than those certainly had at Silverstone and Mugello, but in any case much lower than the 3500 to which it is generally subjected in Hungary.
F1 – 2021 Russian GP preview: braking system
One of the characteristics of Sochi lies in being a semi-urban circuit. 1.7 km of its length are also normally used by urban traffic. This is a factor that will speed up the asphalt rubbering process, with an increase in grip which will result in an increase in the energy dissipated by the braking system.
According to Brembo technicians, the Russian track certainly finds space among the most demanding for the brakes. On a scale of values ranging from 1 to 5, it deserves a difficulty index of 4. The same one received by Monza, home of the Italian GP two weeks ago. Nonetheless, we are talking about two very different tracks. Suffice it to note the 180 ° bend given by turn-3 which, extending for 650 meters, ranks first for being the longest bend in the entire world championship.
The F1 drivers use the brakes in 10 of the 18 turns, making them work for a total of 15 seconds per lap (17% of the overall duration of the race). It is also possible to find a similar time on the track in Mexico, where however, compared to Sochi, the length of the track is about 1.5 km shorter.
Of the 10 braking sections, 7 force the drivers to decelerate by 3.5 G and only 3 of these require the brakes to be used for more than 1.5 seconds. Turn 8 shows the lowest values with a deceleration of “just” 3.1G and 0.97 seconds of use. From the start to the checkered flag, each driver exerts a total load of 44.5 tons on the brake pedal. A ton more than in the Zandvoort race.
Of the 10 braking sections of the Russian GP, 2 are classified as very demanding, 5 are of medium difficulty and the remaining 3 are light. The most difficult is the one to make in corner 2: the drivers enter at 336 km / h exerting a load of 144 kg for 1.85 seconds. This allows the car to reduce the speed up to 131 km / h in just 109 meters causing a deceleration of 6.1 G.