Russian Grand Prix - Powering through the Olympic Village

For its third edition, the Russian Formula One Grand Prix moves from Autumn to Spring time, as the fourth race on the calendar. Introducing the track which unwinds through the 2014 Winter Olympics Village are Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Power Unit Director Mattia Binotto.

This year will mark Seb’s third time at Sochi, the second as a Scuderia Ferrari driver: “The track is located in the Olympic Park, where the Winter Games were held, it’s something quite unique. It’s an exciting circuit with a lot of 90 degrees corners. The track is quite floating, so there are not hard stops. It’s not that easy to overtake but overall quite high grip and good fun. I think that a lot of Russians enjoying the fact the Formula 1 is happening there so, it’s definitely a good Grand Prix.”

There is a factor that will affect everyone in the race: “Usually Russia is quite hard in fuel consumption. In the last two years, though, we saw that tires last very long. So, it becomes important to make sure you’re able to race flat out and you have a fast car in qualifying and you carry that into the race to ensure you have a good and strong result.”

According to Binotto, Sochi presents many challenges on both engine and chassis side. “There are very long straights, very high speed corners, but you also have high speed braking and low traction hairpins. Probably even more important than sheer power is the entire Power Unit, together with the energy management because somehow you need to get the balance right between the long straight which require high accelerations, the corners, every other part of the circuit, and finally to optimize the best lap time and the energy management between the internal combustion engine and the whole system. In terms of race management, the drivers’ lines can be very different in Russia. There are quite a few opportunities for overtaking and therefore it is quite important to manage correctly the way you accelerate the car by using different strategies in the race, compared to qualifying in hybrid and Power Unit energy management.” Fuel management will also be a factor at Sochi: “Fuel consumption is another difficult point in Russia. When we were there two years ago we immediately realized that the 100 kg maximum allowance for the entire race was quite restrictive. In fact, you need somehow to save and manage the fuel during the race and optimize it for the race distance. Also, the very long corner number three, with its high centrifugal acceleration, can prove to be difficult for the oil pick-up and thus affect the lubrication system”.