The eighth Russian Grand Prix to count towards the Formula 1 World Championship, the 15th round of the season takes place this Sunday. As usual, the venue is the Sochi Autodrom, which boasts 18 corners, twelve to the right and six to the left over the course of its 5.848 kilometres. The first and second sectors require medium levels of downforce, while the final one with several 90 degree corners, calls for maximum effort from the wings in terms of efficiency so as to save the tyres which run the risk of overheating in this section.
From the start line to turn 1 is just over a hundred metres, but it is only a gentle curve to the right, taken flat out before reaching the first real braking point at turn 2, which is just under 700 metres from the line. The cars have to decelerate at this point from 330 km/h to around 130 in less than two seconds and slipstreaming the car in front at the start can be an advantage. This is the first of two zones where DRS can be used. Turn 3, around the Medals Plaza, where the medal ceremonies took place during the 2014 Winter Olympics, is a flat out 180° turn to the left. For the second sector, a good exit from turn 10 is vital, because it leads onto another long high speed gentle curve where once again the moveable wing can be activated in the run to turn 13, one of the heaviest braking points on the track.
The Russian Grand Prix sees the introduction of a new technical component for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow: a power united fitted with an updated hybrid system, the introduction of which was mentioned a few weeks back. Its main purpose is to gain experience for the 2022 car project. A great deal of effort has gone into this, both technically and logistically, and so as to be able to use it as soon as possible, its introduction will be staggered between the drivers. Charles will be the first to have the new hybrid system. This decision is a precautionary measure relating to the potential risk of using the battery pack damaged in his Hungarian GP accident. In Sochi, Leclerc will have a brand new power unit and will therefore start from the back of the grid. As to when the updated hybrid system is fitted to Carlos' car, that will be decided following an evaluation of the right compromise between competitiveness and the impact of the penalty.
Ferrari at the Russian GP
GP entered 7
Debut 2014 (F. Alonso 6th; K. Raikkonen 9th)
Pole positions 21 (29.58%)
Fastest laps 19 (26.76%)
Total podiums 69 (32.39%)
Russian Grand Prix - facts & figures
3. The furthest back on the grid from which the Russian GP has been won. It happened twice, in both cases courtesy of Valtteri Bottas. As for the longest trip to the podium, in 2016, Lewis Hamilton went from tenth to second. In the case of Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow, last year Charles Leclerc made up four places to go from tenth on the grid to sixth at the flag on the SF1000.
3 & 6. The best finishes for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz respectively at the Sochi Autodrom. The Monegasque made it to the bottom step of the podium in 2019 with the SF90, after securing his fourth pole position of the season on Saturday. That same year, Sainz was sixth at the wheel of the McLaren MCL34, having started from fifth on the grid.
41. The number of wins in FIA sanctioned races for Viktor Shaytar, the most successful driver from the Russian Federation. The 38 year old Muscovite began racing in single-seaters before soon realising his future lay in GT racing. Most of Viktor's wins came at the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia GTE, entered by SMP Racing. His most important result came in 2015 when he won the LMGTE-Am class in the Le Mans 24 Hours, with fellow countryman Aleksey Basov and works Ferrari driver Andrea Bertolini. Only four Russian drivers have started at least one Formula 1 Grand Prix: Vitaly Petrov (57 races between 2010 and 2012, his best result being a third place); Daniil Kvyat (110 GP from 2014 to 2020 his best being a second place); Sergey Sirotkin (21 races in 2018 with a tenth place as best result) and Nikita Mazepin, who has so far taken part in 14 races this year, his best finish being a 14th place in Azerbaijan.
343,1. The highest top speed in km/h recorded at Sochi Autodrom. It was set by Finland's Kimi Raikkonen in the 2015 Ferrari SF15-T.
1898. The year of the first motor race held in Russia. The St. Petersburgh-Strelna-St. Petersburg race took place on 28 October covering 41.6 kilometres. Seven vehicles were entered, one car and six motorised Clement tricycles. One of these won, driven by local man Petr Belyaev in a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes and 36 seconds.
This week in Ferrari history
22/9. In 2019, Scuderia Ferrari shone in qualifying and the race in Singapore. On Saturday, Charles Leclerc took pole, with Sebastian Vettel third fastest. On Sunday, with a particularly well executed strategy, the team recorded a one-two finish, with Vettel in front of Leclerc in their SF90s. It was the German's 14th win with Ferrari. This was the 84th one-two finish for Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1.
23/9. In 1990, Nigel Mansell won in Portugal at the wheel of the F1-90, to record his third and last Grand Prix victory at the wheel of a Prancing Horse car. His other two wins came in Brazil in 1989, on his debut with Scuderia Ferrari and in Hungary that same year on a track known for the difficulty in overtaking, he won from 12th on the grid.
24/9. In 1989, Austria's Gerhard Berger took his first win of the season in Portugal at the wheel of the F1-89. Scuderia Ferrari might have celebrated a one-two, as Nigel Mansell had taken the lead on lap 24. However, at his pit stop, the Englishman overshot his mark in the pit lane. Nigel selected reverse, which resulted in immediate disqualification. Mansell ignored the black flag and got into a scrap with Brazil's Ayrton Senna that ended in a collision which put them both out of the race. Berger thus took his fourth win at the wheel of a Ferrari, the Scuderia's 97th in Formula 1.
25/9. In 1949, English privateer Peter Whitehead took his first win with a Ferrari Formula 1 car. At the wheel of a 125 F1, the Yorkshireman won the Czechoslovakian Grand Prix at the 17 kilometre-long Brno circuit.
26/9. In 2010 in Singapore, Fernando Alonso recorded his first and, to date, only Grand Chelem. At the Marina Bay circuit, the Spaniard and the Ferrari F10 took pole position and led the race from start to finish without ever losing the lead and also setting the fastest lap of the race on his way to beating Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull. It was Ferrari's 214th win and Alonso's fourth with the team.
Check out our Thursday gallery from Sochi, here.