Fernando Alonso may be heading stateside soon, but his head is very much in Sochi for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. And the Spaniard is very much looking forward to the difference that this year’s new regulations will make.
The wider and faster cars means that previous track tactics are having to be rewritten, with drivers being forced to reevaluate how they tackle their laps. This will be evident in Sochi as certain corners are now taken in top gear.
“Sochi Autodrom is an interesting circuit – a mixture of challenges, and ones which I think will be tackled quite differently this year with the new regulations for 2017,” he said.
“For example, Turn Three last year used to be tricky and you needed to be very precise – it’s a multi-apex left-hander which means good car balance and control are important to not get out of shape mid-corner.
“This year, though, it will likely be taken flat, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the feeling in the car has changed around this circuit.”
The Honda power unit has left McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team wanting in terms of speed, and annoyingly Sochi is home to a number of high-speed corners. Alonso is still up beat, however, and thinks that there may be a few areas that the team can exploit.
“There are two long, slightly-curved straights and high-speed corners, which means this circuit will be challenging for us with the package we have, but our car is also very well-balanced, so I hope we can get the most out of the many 90-degree corners that make this circuit so unique,” he continued.
“Although it’s technically a city circuit, it’s pretty fast overall and the track itself is wide, so it usually provides close racing and good overtaking opportunities.”
McLaren’s season has been plagued by technical issues and non-finishes, but surprisingly their experience at the Bahrain testing was a rather positive one. The team gathered a lot of useful data that they are hopeful will prove beneficial at the upcoming races.
“A positive result for us in Sochi will be to finish the race with both cars, first of all, as we’ve suffered a few reliability issues over the past couple of weekends,” he added.
“I followed the test in Bahrain and I’m pleased that we were able to secure a lot of valuable data from both the car and the power unit, and I know everyone at McLaren-Honda is working hard to put that to good use to aid our progress as quickly as possible.
“The season is long, but there isn’t much time between races – especially fly-aways – for development, so the laps we managed on the final day of the test were a big positive for us and hopefully will be beneficial to us over the next few races.”