Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel battled hard and looked set to charge their way into a double-points finish in Sochi, only for late rain to throw the Russian Grand Prix upside down. The final five laps proved challenging for the Formula One field but the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team duo showcased precision driving to take home 11th and 12th respectively.
It is a real shame that the change in weather cost us a strong chance of a good result and plenty of points.
"It is a real shame that the change in weather cost us a strong chance of a good result and plenty of points. In hindsight, stopping one lap earlier for Intermediates could have changed our race, but it is always hard to judge when the conditions are evolving. I made the call for us to stay out and try to make it to the end, so it is down to me. It is even more disappointing considering we made a great start and got up to fourth in what was a really enjoyable battle in the first few corners. We made the undercut on George [Russell] later on, which worked out nicely, but the second stint on the Hard tyre was made more challenging by the DRS train of cars ahead, which always hurts the tyres, and then it rained. It became very slippery out there and I did not see Sebastian alongside me. We will learn from today and move on to Turkey in a few weeks' time."
When you have rain late in the race it can give you a big opportunity, but it did not go our way today.
"In the early part of the race it was not easy to make much progress in the train of cars, but when the rain came in the final few laps the race became a lottery. It felt like a 50/50 call as to whether we should pit for Intermediate tyres. It felt like the rain would stay light, so we stayed out, but then it became much heavier and caught us out. So we had to pit in the end and fit Intermediates, which dropped us down the order. When you have rain late in the race it can give you a big opportunity, but it did not go our way today. I think it was an entertaining race for the fans and I am happy for Lewis to have won his 100th Grand Prix: a huge achievement and well deserved today."
The result was a disappointing one for us, but, when it rains suddenly like that, luck often plays as big a part as judgment.
"Lance made a fantastic start to move up to fourth place on lap one, and he held that position comfortably on the Medium tyres until we brought him in for Hards on lap 12 – the first tyre stop of the race. He then managed his tyres well in very difficult conditions, until the heavens opened a few laps from the end, which made the last part of the race something of a lottery. There was almost no grip at all, and he and Sebastian even made contact at one point, but the track surface was incredibly slippery and both our drivers did their very best. The result was ultimately a disappointing one for us – 11th and 12th – but, when it rains suddenly like that, luck often plays as big a part as judgment. Finally, on behalf of all of us at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team, I would like to say a big congrats to Lewis [Hamilton]. To win 100 Grands Prix is a truly extraordinary achievement. Well done!"
Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team is taking the opportunity to get to know its local fanbase in Russia, and we're shining the spotlight on Kirill. Kirill is a relatively new fan of Formula One, having become an active follower of the championship during the global COVID-19 pandemic. This is I / AM, a platform for greatness. Bring your thing.
Guide to Sochi
While qualifying can make or break a Russian Grand Prix, big gains can be made with strategy as the Sochi circuit is usually kind on tyres, opening up both under- and overcut opportunities, on a circuit where passing isn't always the easiest. Analysing recent car performance and historic data, our Title Sponsor Cognizant presents the challenges expected in the Russian Grand Prix.
Cognizant's Keys to the Race
The tyres used in the Russian Grand Prix will be Pirelli’s three softest compounds; the C3, C4 and C5. This selection was last used at the Styrian Grand Prix earlier this year.
There were a total of just 28 overtakes at Sochi in 2020. In the previous three races, 58% of overtakes have used DRS, with the main straight from Turn 18 to Turn Two providing the best overtaking opportunity. The second most popular overtaking spot is along the second DRS zone going into Turn 13. Drivers often have a good chance to make up positions on lap one and on Safety Car restarts.
First lap incidents at Sochi are very likely. There have been first-lap Safety Cars in four out of the last five races here. More than 70% of that Safety-Car action has occurred in the opening five laps, suggesting that drivers tend to quickly settle into a rhythm around here. Since its introduction in 2015, the Virtual Safety Car has been deployed just three times.
From long straights to slow, demanding 90-degree turns, finding the optimum flow at Sochi can be challenging. While faster than a regular street circuit, the unrelenting walls mean a brush against the barriers or a simple mistake can have severe consequences. Our official Cyber Security Partner SentinelOne presents the key challenges behind a lap of Sochi.
Unlocking the Lap
Finding the flow is the biggest challenge over a lap of the Russian Grand Prix, especially when the circuit switches from the higher speed first and second sectors to the very slow and technical final stretch.
Crossing the start line at over 270km/h, the long main straight kinks slightly for "Turn One", but it's a flat-out run through one of the longest straights of the year.
With DRS's impact lessened at Sochi, engineers will reduce downforce, so the car will feel light when reaching top speeds of 330km/h.
It's then time to slam on the brakes for the tricky Turn Two: this is a tight right-hander taken at 140km/h in fourth gear.
Drivers need to be precise because running wide will invalidate the lap; and, in the race, those running wide must re-join the track after using the run-off, further delaying them.
Taking a wide line and pulling to the right, drivers reach the incredible Turn Three, a constant-radius left-hand bend over 750 metres, where peak g-forces approach 4G.
In the race, multiple lines can be taken here and it provides overtaking opportunities before Turn Four, which is a medium-speed right-hander, taken at around 200km/h.
There's a short run to Turn Five, which is deceivingly tricky due to a small bump under braking; otherwise, it's a routine 90-degree right-hand corner.
Unlocking the Lap
Turn Six is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kink that’s quickly followed by another 90-degree right-hand turn. On exit, drivers tend to ride the kerb but need to avoid the AstroTurf that can unsettle a car.
There's a short blast where drivers climb above 200km/h before a double-left off-camber corner.
Turn 10 is critical for lap-time; it’s another 90-degree right-hander, and, because it precedes one of the longer straights of the lap, exit-speed is critical.
While the straight gradually curves left and right, and includes "Turns" 11 and 12, drivers will easily clear 300km/h before the slow, technical end to the lap.
At Turn 13, drivers brake to below 140km/h and clip the inside kerb, trying to avoid oversteer, before immediately meeting another 90-degree corner at Turn 14 in what is a slow right-left combination.
There's another complex of corners at Turns 15 and 16 as drivers go left and right in what is almost a chicane, meaning it's key not to over-commit at Turn 15 and compound lap-time loss.
While Sochi is one of the newer Grands Prix on the calendar, it's often played a pivotal role in many championship campaigns. Global Partner NetApp delves into the Russian Grand Prix archives to bring you the best stats and facts from Sochi.
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