Sochi circuit – the first F1-specific facility in Russia

The Sochi Autodrom is a Formula One racing street circuit in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, a favoured holiday destination in Russia. Seaside views and snow-topped mountains in the same panorama. Sochi, a beach city, with a total of 131 beaches at a combined length of 118 kilometres.

In 2010, it was officially announced that Sochi would host a Formula One Grand Prix, beginning in 2014, under a seven-year deal.

The circuit, the fourth longest on the Formula One calendar behind Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan and Silverstone in the UK, is built around the Sochi Olympic Park.

Previously known as the Sochi International Street Circuit and the Sochi Olympic Park Circuit, the track is the first facility specifically built for Formula One in Russia.

Sochi Autodrom is partly integrated in the public road network and consists of two circuits. The long circuit is to be used only for Formula 1. Including 1.7 kilometres of public roads, it is 5.85 kilometres long and feature 19 corners. The width varies from 13 to 15 meters and the direction is clockwise. The mix of straights and fast corners makes it to one of the fastest of Formula One. It certainly features many of the characteristics of a street circuit, including plenty of 90-degree turns.

Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone had been trying to hold a race in Russia since the 1980s. At the time plans fell through for a race in Moscow's Red Square. "They didn't want to replace the cobblestones with paving," Ecclestone told CNN's Ben Wyatt.

"He's my sort of man," Bernie Ecclestone told of Vladimir Putin's influence in the project to stage the nation's first grand prix in Sochi. "I think (Russia has) done a first-class job for F1. Russia is an important nation, full stop. F1 is a world championship, so it's difficult to think of leaving Russia out of a world event like this," he added.

The 55,000-capacity circuit is integrated into the Olympic Park infrastructure and combines both high-speed and technical sections. Its construction came under the design supervision of architect Hermann Tilke. "Nothing is impossible for him," organizers said. "It was a big hole!" says Tilke, recalling his initial impressions of when he visited the Sochi site in 2010. "I've had more meetings about Sochi than any other track. We were a construction site within a construction site ... (but) in many ways it's like a city track - you cannot move a house in a city, you have to work with the situation.”

Tilke believes that turn four - a long, sweeping circular corner - will be "the hardest in F1".

"We've spent about $ 330 million (so far). But I'm not worried about the cost, only about the quality," one of the organizers added. "I can say for sure that the cost of the track will be three to four times cheaper than the circuit in Abu-Dhabi."

“There are definitely similarities to other tracks; perhaps the best comparison is Singapore”, Vettel has said. “But unlike Singapore, the layout is more fluid, so it will be much faster. Some sectors remind me a bit of South Korea or Abu Dhabi. A lot of straights, a power-sensitive circuit,” he added.

"It's an amazing feeling to come to this beautiful place and to race on this track," Hamilton has said. "It's got really good grip and great corners, with a lot at medium speed; it's good fun."

Jan 26, 2018