12 July 2014
Whiting: Drivers will love Sochi F1 circuit
FIA race director Charlie Whiting is confident that the new Russian Grand Prix venue will provide the thrills F1 drivers crave at its debut event in October.
F1 race director and safety delegate Charlie Whiting believes that the new Russian Grand Prix circuit being constructed in the Winter Olympic park at Sochi will be a big hit with the current crop of F1 drivers.
Although the inaugural Russian F1 event is not due until the closing weeks of the 2014 schedule, Whiting has been a semi-regular visitor to the Black Sea resort that, just months ago, was playing host to skiers, skaters and lugers amongst others, and is impressed with the way the transformation from winter sports to grand prix is taking shape.
“It looks so much better!” he told the event's official website, “The last time I was here, it was a big building site. It's been a year since I've been here and it looks really beautiful now. The track itself is going to be really fast and the drivers will love it. I'm sure of that.”
Using the access roads in and around the various Olympic venues, the Sochi circuit will provide another unique backdrop for the F1 circus, to add to the likes of Singapore's cityscape and the Americas Cup port that formerly played host to the European GP in Valencia. Despite the limitations the surroundings may have put on the layout, however, Whiting is excited at what is being produced.
“It's a high quality track,” he claimed, “It's clear that everything has been done really nicely. It will be a fast track, and I think it will be a really competitive track as there will be at least two or three places where drivers can overtake properly. I think that will be a very interesting track and a very spectacular race.”
Whiting confirmed that, in common with many existing venues, there would be two DRS zones incorporated into the Sochi circuit - between turns 1-2 and then between turns 10-12 – before revealing that his personal favourite sections may not be the best for overtaking….
“It's a little difficult to say at the moment, but I think the turns from 4-10,” he pondered, “Those look like fast sweeping corners and I think it are going to be quite good to watch. There will not be much overtaking in those corners, but I think you will see overtaking in turns two, 13 and, possibly, 17.”
The veteran safety delegate also responded to Russian media concerns that the circuit may contain hidden dangers for the competitors, insisting that every precaution has already been taken.
“We're happy about the safety here,” he maintained, “It's absolutely first class, I could not describe it any better than that. We've done lots of simulations on the track and how we've arranged the track itself, the run-off area and the energy absorbing barriers. It's all been simulated, and we are entirely confident that Sochi Autodrom is absolutely first-class when it comes to safety. It's going to be a spectacular race and I'm really looking forward to it.”
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