It’s rather an anonymous track, as flat as an airport runway and without any real bends except for the famous Turn 3 which some people have (rather generously) compared to the legendary super-fast and ultra-tough Turn 8 at the Istanbul circuit, which quit Formula 1® a few years ago. This year’s race will be the fourth in Sochi, following the circuit’s F1® debut in October 2014.
SPRING INSTEAD OF AUTUMN
So that leads us neatly to an important difference. These days, the race is held in spring, after two editions in autumn. Not that it makes much difference to the conditions: Sochi, and more specifically the venue of Adler (which was home to most facilities for the 2014 Olympic Games and now also the circuit) is situated on the shores of the Black Sea and benefits from temperate weather similar to an eternal spring. For the ski competitions of the Winter Olympics, you had to climb the slopes of the mountains behind the town where, as tourist posters proclaim, you can ski into late May. For grand prix drivers, there’s a different type of sliding. As has been well documented, the surface is not very abrasive, with low degradation. And that means that the winning strategy has always been a one-stopper; up to now at least. This year though it might be different, with faster, wider and more aggressive cars.