Russian Grand Prix

Russian Grand Prix

The Russian Grand Prix is a part of the Formula One Championship that is held yearly at a street circuit around Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia. The circuit is named Sochi Autodrom (Formerly known as Sochi International Circuit). The Russian Grand Prix is one of the newest on the Formula 1 Calendar.

When was the first Russian Grand Prix?

Early Grand Prix happened in the 1910’s and these races were not yet part of Formula One Championship. There were plans about Moscow hosting the 1983 season of Formula One Grand Prix of the Soviet Union, but it did not materialize.

For the record, the Russian city of Sochi was formally declared to host a new F1 race on the calendar starting in 2014 under a seven-year agreement.

The Russian Grand Prix is distinguished for having merely ever been won by Mercedes.

Ideas for a GP in Russia developed in the early 1980s, with a suggested track in Moscow to be hosted under the designation of the “Grand Prix of the Soviet Union”. The race was contained within temporary calendar for 1983, but governmental barriers prohibited the Grand Prix from being realized. Hence, the race was taken off from all succeeding modifications of the calendar. Nonetheless, Bernie Ecclestone did not stop his mission to organize a race behind the Iron Curtain. As an alternative, Hungary became the first communist country to conduct a race in 1986.

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Vladimir Putin, President of Russia in 2001, supported the “Pulkovskoe Ring” project close to Pulkovo Airport, but the race was never culminated. They tried again in 2003 along with the approval of Moscow council for the construction of a new race track in Molzhaninovsky District of Moscow. Unfortunately, the project was not realized after a heated discussion regarding the commercial contract. F1 circuit was then said to be built in September 2008 to be situated at the village of Fedyukovo, Volokolamsky which is around 77 km away from Moscow. Moscow Raceway, designed by Hermann Tilke eventually hosted F1 and Moto GP races. The plot to hold a Grand Prix at the Moscow Raceway never took place, but unlike the Pulkovskoe Ring and Nagatino Island projects, the circuit was finished. Hence, it hosted series of the Formula Renault 3.5 and 2.0 in 2012 – which turned out to be the first globally accredited motorsport event to implement a round in Russia – including the Superbike World Championship and FIA GT1 World Championship.

Russia’s first Formula One driver was Vitaly Petrov in 2010, by the time he entered Renault, adding more drive to the project. Bernie Ecclestone voiced an aspiration to witness F1 travel to Russia at a track in or close to Moscow or at Sochi’s resort city. After years of trying to re-establish the race, the new Russian GP was formally declared on October 14, 2010 for an inauguration in 2014 until 2020. The race took place in the resort city of Sochi – specifically at Sochi Autodrom, where the 2014 Winter Olympics was held.

Prior to the laying of the circuit’s surface, the International Olympic Committee was granted the rights to postpone race until 2015 if the Winter Olympics will have a conflicting schedule with the race preparations. on the upper hand, the Games commenced without any hassles. The Russian government has allocated US$195.4 million in October 2011 for the circuit’s construction.

The creation of the Sochi Olympic Park Circuit marked the beginning of the plan’s realization for a “Grand Prix of the Soviet Union” which was conceptualized as early as 1983 before being junked for political reasons and several failed attempts in the superseding years.

FIA has granted the circuit’s approval in 2014.

What does the Sochi Autodrom look like today?

With a length of 5.848-kilometre (3.634 mi), the Sochi Autodrom is the fourth-longest circuit on the Formula One calendar, next to Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan and Silverstone in the UK. The circuit is emplaced around the Sochi Olympic Park, the place where Winter Olympics was held in 2014.  The circuit was not built until the closing ceremony of winter Olympics 2014.

The circuit was designed by the German architect Hermann Tilke, the man behind the layouts and designs of numerous Formula One circuits. The starting grid is positioned on the northern part of the Olympic park beside the railway station, heading towards the Black Sea coast. It passes around the edge of the central Sochi Medals Plaza, also where the podium for Olympic medal ceremonies is located. There is a long turn, Turn 3, that is compared to the well-known Turn 8 of Istanbul park. After this, the track passes encircling the plaza in three turns counterclockwise around the Bolshoy Ice Dome. This is then followed by short turns bound to northern part at the edge of the Olympic Park above the main Olympic Village and the Adler Arena Skating Center. It then goes through the skating and curling centers, before funneling up at the back of the pit paddock going to the train station. The circuit is completed after two final 90 degree turns.

How to get to the Russian Grand Prix

The Sochi Autodrom is just 7km from south of Sochi International Airport, and approximately 35 kilometres south of the city center. Although the airport is finely renovated for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, the airport is a limited hub that hardly caters international flights. There are limited direct flights from Western Europe. Fans from the Western European countries take flights to Moscow through Aeroflot or several other Russian carriers or to Istanbul via Turkish Airlines.

Getting to Sochi Autodrom

Riding the train or bus is the best and practical way to get to the circuit because of extra services and availability during the race weekend. There are available city trains and buses that cater passengers from central Sochi to the Imeretinsky Korort station (200 meters from the circuit entrance). Travel time could take up to 50 minutes via trains from the center of Sochi. Numerous buses that go straight to the circuit are also available. Driving or hiring a car is not that practical and not recommended because the parking areas around the circuit are closed during the race weekend. It’s oly for those who have valid ticket to park at the circuit.

What to prepare when going to the Russian Grand Prix

Visa

Visa is a must have. You’ll have to secure it first before planning to enter Russia. You’ll be needing first to get a tourist voucher and a tourist confirmation document signed by an authorized person before applying for visa from your country’s Russian Consulate. The two mentioned documents can be secured from the hotels where you are booked in advance or an accredited travel agent/agency who deals with trips to Russia.

Safety

As far as safety is concerned, Sochi is a safe place in Russia. However, like in any countries that you go, it is always best to exercise caution and alertness at all times. Pickpockets might still be present in crowded areas. It is also best to avoid drinking or gambling with anyone who is not your friend or family. It is kind of different in Russia because the vehicles have the right of way over the pedestrians. Being hit by a car could place you at fault. Exercise extreme caution at all times especially when crossing the road.

Money

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Russia’s currency is Russian Rouble. It became weaker due to economic reasons which made the fare to Russia somehow more affordable. ATM’s are present and money exchange transactions can be made through banks and official bureaux as long as you have your passport with you.

Health

Fortunately, there are six hospitals in Sochi and big hotels have available on-call medical professionals such as nurses and doctors. It is important to have few over the counter medicines with you alone the trip to save yourself from making an extra trip to pharmacies. Not all people in Russia speaks English, so you might have a hard time. Most importantly, do not forget securing a travel insurance before going to Russia.

Sochi Weather

The Russian grand Prix happens every September where autumn begins. And because Sochi is a subtropical zone of Russia, it has an average of 25°C. A pleasant weather isn’t it?

Where is the best place to watch the Russian Grand Prix?

Main Grandstand

This grandstand is located opposite of the pits, the start-finish straight. This finely designed main grandstand is covered and best for first timers who likes to have a view of all the actions that happens at the beginning and at the finish of the race. Don’t miss the chance to visit the grandstand’s museum which exhibits over 50 historic cars.

Turn 2

For many, they say it’s the best grandstand in the circuit in terms of on-track wheel to wheel action. The Turn 2 grandstand is located on a low-speed corner after a fast long straight.it’s sure to have a lot of action even at the beginning of the lap and the best overtaking spot on the whole circuit.

Turn 4

This grandstand faces the Bolshoi Ice Dome and it offers a close up view of turn 4 at the circuit.

Formula 1 Paddock Club™

This is where the rich and famous figures are in during the race and offers luxurious ambience in Sochi Autodrom. Located above the pits, the guests are offered gourmet cuisine and have access to open bars. Having a seat here includes access for daily pit walks and guided access to the formula 1 Paddock.