F1 2021
Round 15

#RussianGP Race Setup

ru Sochi Autodrom

The Sochi Autodrom, another Hermann Tilke design, is something of a hybrid street circuit, as it uses the roads around the complex used for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Returning to Russia in 2020, we saw a good haul of points for Honda power with all four cars coming home inside the top 10.

#RussianGP Race Setup

Heading to Sochi after the second triple-header of the 2021 season, we are excited to get racing again after a weekend off. Claiming our first trophy here in 2020, with Max Verstappen finishing in P2, we hope to better that result here this year and continue the battle in the drivers' and constructors' championships, bringing home a good haul of points.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
The last triple-header was eventful and generally positive, with two wins out of the three for Max, who has now retaken the lead in the Drivers’ championship. Now we come to the Sochi Autodrom which uses roads around the Olympic Park from the winter games in 2014. It is something of a street circuit, one of the longest on the calendar at just under 6 kilometres. It features two long straights and many 90 degree corners. This means the main requirements are good top speed, as well as excellent driveability out of the slow turns. Unfortunately, we did not pick up as many points as we would have wished for across both teams and so we hope we can see that situation change this weekend and that all four Honda drivers have a strong race in Russia. We are coming into the last third of the season and it will be important to maximise our performance and not make any mistakes. 
We are fighting hard for the championship titles and, after the summer break we introduced a new Energy Store which gives improved PU performance and a significant reduction in weight. This last factor means it also contributes to chassis performance in terms of allowing better weight distribution. It took a few years to develop this battery and the original idea was to introduce it in 2022. However, with the decision that Honda will leave Formula 1 at the end of this season, the plan was brought forward to this year. That would not have been possible without a huge effort from all the engineers at HRD-UK, who were in charge of the project development, as well as support from various areas of Honda’s R&D department in Japan.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
I think you can reflect all you like but it’s important to look forward and keep pushing. I still believe it was a racing incident, but we have been given a three-place grid penalty and we just have to work with it now. The race in Monza definitely wasn’t our day for many reasons, but now I just plan to look forward to Sochi. It was great to finish second there last year in Sochi especially as it has never been a good track for us as a Team. We have been more competitive this year and we have a better package at the moment so it will be interesting to see how competitive we can be there this year. It will be of course completely different to Monza and it looks like there might be some rain this weekend. The track itself and the layout is completely different to the previous races so I’m definitely looking forward to going back there and seeing what we can do. The penalty is of course not ideal but nothing is lost, that’s how I look at it. As for the Drivers’ Championship, we still have a lot of races ahead of us and it’s a very tiny margin. We will try and make the most from the weekend and work with the package we have.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
We knew going into Monza that it wasn't our best track and it was a shame to lose the podium after the race with the penalty, but there are plenty of positives to take from the weekend. We're going to a very different kind of track in Russia and so I really hope we can continue our form and start strong on Friday. It is very important we help each other out and try to get the most from each weekend for the Team, especially as we come towards the end of the season where there are less races to capitalise on. Mercedes have won every race at Sochi since 2014 so they're the favourites this weekend. They're definitely going to be hard to beat but like always we will give it our best. Sochi is a track I like because it is very technical, fast and fluid which I think makes qualifying quite exciting.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
What happened in Monza was regrettable, as I believe we could have done something good there, especially when you look at how the race went. The weekend ended very badly for the team, for me and for Yuki after our performance had been very good leading up to the race and I had a super Qualifying. A real shame, but there has been a positive trend after the summer break as our performance level was very good at all three races since then. It bodes well for the rest of the season, as I believe we can be competitive at all the remaining races. In a way, it was good that we took the engine penalty in Italy and so hopefully we can get to the end of the season without having more.
Since Italy, I enjoyed having a bit of a break because the triple-header was very intense, with no time to do anything in between the races and you can’t train as hard as you would do normally. A small break is particularly good for everyone in the team, before starting up again and apart from the usual work in the simulator, I was able to spend a bit of time in France with my family.
Sochi next, where last year I got to Q3 and finished in the top 10. I quite like the track, even if the layout features a lot of corners that are very similar to one another. The last sector is quite technical, the long straights mean you get some nice fights and overtaking moves. The fact the circuit is in the Olympic Park gives it a special “sports” atmosphere and Sochi itself has evolved over the years. I remember the first time I went with Formula 2 there wasn’t much going on, but now there’s a good atmosphere.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
Just before Monza, it was confirmed that I will stay with Scuderia AlphaTauri next year. I am obviously happy and thankful to the team and to Honda.
Monza was a real shame as car performance was there already from FP1 and then especially for my team-mate in Qualifying. I found the Sprint format quite tough, having to go straight into Qualifying with just one free practice session. But I think I showed good progress.
I spent most of the time after Monza in Italy, with a bit of time in the factory, apart from a couple of days in the simulator in the UK and now I’m ready for the next race in Russia. At Sochi, most of the corners are 90 degrees and very similar to each other, so you need to have a good technique for driving 90-degree corners! Plus, you need a car that has good traction out of the corner exit to have enough speed down the straights that follow them. It feels like a normal track, but it’s really more of a city-street circuit and so track evolution is massive over the weekend and the wing effect is quite huge.
I am confident that I can do well there and continue to make progress over a race weekend. I have raced at Sochi in Formula 3 and last year in Formula 2 and I have good memories of that. I took pole position and finished second in the Feature Race. I will continue with my step-by-step approach, gradually learning everything about the track and how the car is working. Actually, I’m not worried about the car, as since the start of the year it has shown good performance, especially in the last six or seven races when we produced consistently good performances. I will be focusing more on improving my driving and I’m looking forward to experiencing Sochi for the first time in a Formula 1 car.

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