Russian GP Preview – Mercedes hopes Netflix won’t jinx them!

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes released the 2020 Russian Grand Prix preview featuring comments from team boss Toto Wolff. You can read Wolff’s comments below!

“After nine races in eleven weekends, and having reached half distance in the championship, Formula One had a well-deserved weekend off. F1, the FIA and the local promoters did an impressive job in setting up a calendar in these difficult circumstances and making sure our series could safely return to the race track,” said Wolff.

“However, the condensed schedule also meant a relentless three months for many people working in our sport. Those women and men – from all teams and in all kinds of positions – deserve our gratitude for making sure that we could do what we love most: go racing.

“We’re now heading to Russia, the first stand-alone event of the season. Sochi has been a good circuit for us in the past and we hold a strong track record there. The Autodrom has a fairly unusual layout and it’s one feature in particular that makes it special: the long run from pole to the first braking zone. It means that the pole-sitter isn’t necessarily in the strongest position for the race start as the cars behind him benefit from the tow. You could see it last year when Vettel overtook Leclerc on the run down to Turn 2 and in 2017, when Valtteri beat pole-sitter Vettel from P3. Our qualifying pace has been really strong this year, but this strength could easily turn into a vulnerability on race day in Sochi.

“The Russian Grand Prix will also be the race where Netflix will follow our team for the third season of Drive to Survive. Last year, they shadowed us at Hockenheim where we celebrated our home race and 125 years of motorsport – and had our worst race of the season.

“That made for a very entertaining Netflix episode, but we hope that this time we can have great content and a great race,” concluded the Austrian.

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Fact File: Russian Grand Prix

  • The Sochi Autodrom’s run from pole position to the first braking zone (Turn 2) is the longest of any F1 track, with a distance of around 890 metres.
  • Because of the long run down to Turn 2, the tow is the most powerful of the F1 season – especially on the first lap of the race, which makes maintaining position at the front very difficult.
  • The Russian Grand Prix’s 309.944 km race distance is the longest of any race this season, closely followed by Mugello (309.497 km).
  • Sochi is the only F1 track on the 2020 calendar with a 60km/h speed limit in the pit lane, rather than the usual 80 km/h limit.
  • This track features one of the highest time losses on the calendar for a pit stop. Overall, it takes 30 seconds from entering the pitlane to joining the track after the stop. When compared to running at normal racing speeds on track, the time loss for slowing down at the pit entry, running through the pits, fitting fresh tyres and accelerating back out of the pit lane is roughly 25 seconds.
  • The track layout winds around the venues of the 2014 Winter Olympics, including the Olympic Stadium, Bolshoy Ice Dome, Medal Plaza and Adler Arena.
  • The Sochi Autodrom is one of three Olympic venues to have hosted F1 races, alongside the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (1976) and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (1992).
  • Mercedes has a 100% win record at not only the modern-era Russian Grand Prix, winning every race at Sochi since it arrived on the F1 scene in 2014, but also the two Russian Grands Prix held in 1913 and 1914 in St. Petersburg, which were both won by Benz cars.
  • The smooth tarmac at the Sochi Autodrom is very gentle on the tyres, with some drivers in the past pitting on lap one and making it to the chequered flag on the same set.
  • 62 gear changes per lap are expected in Sochi, which makes it the track with the joint-highest number of gear changes of any track on the 2020 F1 schedule alongside the Nürburgring.
  • There are a lot of 90-degree corners at the Sochi Autodrom which feature a similar trajectory. This usually makes setting up the car more straightforward compared to other tracks.
  • Russia and Abu Dhabi are the only two races this season where the three softest tyre compounds will be used (C3, C4 and C5).
  • Turn 3 is one of the longest corners in F1. It’s taken flat-out, apart from when tyre management is required, because pushing hard through this corner lap after lap is tough on the rubber – particularly with the three softest compounds being run in Sochi.
  • Marbles (pieces of rubber that come off the tyre as they are worn down) are a common problem at Turn 3, as they tend to build up offline very quickly during sessions and races. We’ve seen them catch drivers out in the past, when they stray ever so slightly off the racing line.
  • Fuel consumption proves to be particularly high at the Sochi Autodrom because there are several long straights, and the frequency of short, 90-degree corners means drivers apply full-throttle much earlier than at a track with many hairpins and chicanes. If it’s a clean and uninterrupted race, more fuel management is required through lift and coasting than at many other tracks. But the Safety Car has appeared in four of the last five races in Russia, with this pause in the race meaning the driver can reach the chequered flag with less management.
  • The frequency of Safety Cars in Russia is due to the street circuit nature of the Sochi Autodrom. The close proximity of the barriers make it more difficult to recover a broken down or damaged car, particularly if an incident happens around Turns 13 at the end of the back straight as the corner has a blind entry.
  • Netflix will be embedded in the Mercedes team for the Russian Grand Prix, capturing content over the race weekend for the next series of Drive to Survive.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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