Russian GP: Preview - Racing Point


After the triple-header of speed, Russia is a different prospect. Gone are the high lateral demands of cornering and in comes what is effectively a street circuit. While it looks low-speed, Sochi features predominantly medium-speed corners - usually in the 120-140km/h speed range. Being mainly 90-degree corners, you spend plenty of time on corner entry and require good traction on exit.

The long sweeping Turn 3 left-hander looks dramatic, but it's taken flat in Qualifying trim and doesn't tend to challenge the driver or car dramatically. After experiencing little in the way of stress up until this point, Turn 3 puts a lot of demand on the front-right tyre and requires careful management.

The DRS effect is one of the most powerful on the 2020 calendar, with a benefit of 0.6 seconds per lap in Qualifying with DRS engaged. But it's also not a simple drag race, with the activation point on exit of the final corner making it essential the driver follows the car ahead closely and gets good traction on in order to get the chance to activate DRS in the race.

The C5 compound will appear for the first time in 2020 at Sochi, and it will also feature at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In contrast, Mugello featured the C1 due to the high demands on the tyres.

We've seen plenty of drama in the past on the opening laps at Turn 2, and this is influenced by the fact drivers approach with tyres and brakes not up to optimum temperature, because Turn 1 is effectively a kink rather than a proper corner.

What's key to a perfect Russian Grand Prix lap?
Lance Stroll: "It's like all tracks in that you have to hit your markers exactly right and string the lap together. It's key to exit the final corner correctly as it's a long straight where you can lose a lot of time. The long Turn 3 is also important, even though it's completely flat. Otherwise, it's about keeping it clean and tidy."

Where's the best place to overtake at Sochi?
LS: "Turn 2 is definitely the key overtaking spot. If a driver doesn't get a clean exit from the final corner, they're compromised on the long run to Turn 2. The DRS is also really powerful here, so it's definitely the best place to make a move stick."

What are your expectations for the weekend?
LS: "We've shown over the first half of the season that we are competitive at all types of circuit, so I'm confident we'll fight for good points. We're improving a strong package with the latest updates, so that's a boost for us all too."

You've had podium success at Sochi in the past, is it one of your favourite circuits now?
Sergio Perez: "I really like Sochi; I have great memories here. It's a good track and I like the challenge."

What's key to being fast at Sochi?
SP: "Braking is really important here and you have to be very precise. There are a lot of right-angle corners there, which aren't easy and can catch you out. So you have to make sure it's clean and tidy across the lap because the concrete walls are never far away."

It's now the second half of the season - what are your expectations?
SP: "I really think we can have a stronger second half of the season. I don't think the luck has always been on my side in the races so far. It feels like there is more to come. Sochi is always somewhere where I've been strong and I think we can score good points this weekend."

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Published: 22/09/2020
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