TEN FACTS: The Russian Grand Prix

512px-Circuit_Sochi.svgThe Russian Grand Prix will play host to its first world championship race this weekend after a 30 year discussion. The Sochi Autodrom has been built specifically for Formula 1 racing and first began construction in 2011. As the 2014 Russian Grand Prix weekend gets under way, the first of its kind in the country, here are ten facts you need to know about the historic race, the circuit and the nation’s drivers…

  1. This weekend, Sochi will host its first Grand Prix after much discussion about the political impact of a Russian race. The circuit was only officially opened last month and boasts 18 intricate corners.
  2. The Hermann Tilke designed track was only completed this summer despite beginning construction back in 2011. This lead to some speculation that the race would be postponed for a year. The site was given the all-clear for competition after inspection from Race Director, Charlie Whiting.
  3. The circuit itself is 3.636 miles long and includes two DRS zones. The soft and medium tyres will be used to tackle the unknown twists and turns of Sochi and its particularly unusual turn 3 which has been compared to a horseshoe shape. This track will be unknown to all the racers.
  4. While this is the first race at Sochi, Russia has welcomed Formula 1 to its country before. The last race was held one hundred years ago – back in 1914 – and was contested in St. Petersburg. Political factors once again affected racing in the country and the timing of World War I saw it removed from the calendar until this year.
  5. Those visiting the circuit have described it as a hybrid of Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina and Singapore’s Marina Bay. The risk of low attendance was considered when both were announced as tracks but F1’s expansion has done little to impact ticket sales.
  6. Indeed, just 2,000 tickets remain since they went on sale, ensuring that Russia’s first world championship race will be held in front of 53,000 fans. Organisers expect this number to rise to 75,000 by next year. If achieved, it would become one of the most popular new tracks on the calendar.
  7. Russia has just two Formula 1 drivers to its credit. Vitaly Petrov set a precedent for his country but is unlikely to return to the pinnacle after an uncertain start to his new DTM career. Daniil Kvyat is undoubtedly the country’s breakout star and will drive for Red Bull next season.
  8. Sergey Sirotkin’s links to Sauber could make him the third driver of his nationality to join the ranks of F1. Before his FP1 showing for the Swiss outfit, the 19-year-old was the first to try the track after its unveiling making him the most experienced full-time, reserve or test driver in the paddock this weekend.
  9. The best finish by a Russian driver is a third place for Petrov at the Australian Grand Prix in 2011. This podium finish came during his time at Lotus and just months after Robert Kubica’s rally accident. This was Russia’s, and Petrov’s, first and only top three finish.
  10. Sochi will also be Marussia’s home race but they will field just one car this weekend after Jules Bianchi’s serious and shocking crash in Japan last week. Everyone, of course, wishes him and his family well. Max Chilton will be their driver this weekend at the helm of his car number 4.

2 thoughts on “TEN FACTS: The Russian Grand Prix

  1. But then you should know that there was no F1 World Championship until 1950, so really it is F1’s first visit to Russia. All the non-champ events are unofficial.

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