Sochi Autodrom Track guide
The street circuit is named as the Sochi Autodrom. It was previously known as the Sochi International Street Circuit and the Sochi Olympic Park Circuit. Despite being a street circuit, it is known as a permanent race track in Sochi. The 5.848km (3.634 miles) holds 19 corners and is currently the fourth-longest on the Formula 1 calendar. It was designed by German Hermann Tilke. The circuit runs right through the Winter Olympic park and ticks off most of the key Olympic buildings in the area.
Early beginnings during the 1980s
Plans for a Russian Grand Prix ignited in the early 1980s with the event planned to take place in Moscow. The event, under the name of ‘Grand Prix of the Soviet Union’, was included on the provisional calendar for the 1983 Formula 1 season. But the race was soon removed. Bernie Ecclestone continued his hunt for a race behind the Iron Curtain, but Hungary was seen as a more suitable venue. This joined the Formula 1 schedule in 1986.
More signs during the 2000s
Vladimir Putin made noises to grab the attention of Formula 1. There was a project to host a Formula 1 race in the early 2000s, but again the plan never went through. Motor racing became more popular in Russia across the following few years, but it wasn’t until 2010 when a deal was finally sealed.
The Russian Grand Prix
The first running, taking place in October 2014, was won by British driver Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes. Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas joined Hamilton on the very first Russian podium. Those on the 2014 podium are only three drivers to win races in Russia. Mercedes has been the only team to win the Russian Grand Prix.
Controversy occurred during the 2018 Russian Grand Prix when Valtteri Bottas was on for a race win, but his Mercedes team ordered him to let Hamilton past to give their British driver the best chance at beating Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 1 world championship.
Recent events at the Sochi Autodrom
Where 2018 was all about the drama between the two Mercedes cars as race leader Valtteri Bottas was ordered to let Lewis Hamilton past, the drama in at the 2019 Russian Grand Prix took place at the Ferrari garage.
Charles Leclerc had taken pole position while Sebastian Vettel started third, but the latter had the better launch when the lights went out. The German used slipstream in the long run-up to turn 1 to get past Leclerc and took the lead, much to the displeasure of the Monegasque.
He started complaining on team radio and Vettel was informed to let Leclerc past, something which Vettel refused to do as he was already three seconds clear of the rest of the field. Ferrari eventually forced Vettel’s hand by pitting Leclerc early and leaving the four-time champion out for too long. Vettel eventually retired as well with mechanical issues while Mercedes got past Leclerc as Hamilton took the win for the second year running.
The 2020 edition was one of a few races to take place outside of Europe in a heavily altered season due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Vettel's 250th Grand Prix, it was Bottas who secured the race win. He stood on the podium with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
What does the race weekend of the Russian Grand Prix look like?
On September 24th, F1 drivers will get the chance to practice on the track.
Qualifying starts on Saturday 25th September at 13:00, the race on Sunday 26th September at 13:00 in the afternoon.
What time does the Russian Grand Prix start?
As in previous years, the Russian Grand Prix can be followed live in the live blog of GPblog from half an hour before the start of the race. The start time of the Russian Grand Prix is 13:00 UK time.