Jolyon Palmer has fond memories of the Sochi Autodrom as it provided the win that secured him the 2014 GP2 Series championship.
Though he got off the line first and led the entire race, his competitors didn’t make the win easy for the Brit, which makes it all the more memorable.
“For me the best thing about Russia is that I won the first ever GP2 Series race there and that race won me the championship, so I have very good memories of the Sochi Autodrom!” he said.
“I got a great start so led from the first lap but was under a lot of pressure all the way.
“It’s great to win any race, but to win a race where you’ve had pressure at every turn, that’s a real achievement.”
The track’s surface is smooth due to its infancy, meaning grip levels and tyre temperatures are difficult to manage. Renault Sport Formula 1 Team struggled during last year’s qualifying before improving for the race. They will be hoping to get to grips with the track, so to speak, a lot sooner this weekend.
“It’s a smooth and still pretty new track with plenty to think about in its layout,” he continued. “We’ve seen that it can start with pretty low grip levels at the beginning of the weekend, but it will be interesting to see how the extra downforce of 2017 copes with that.
“Last year we struggled to get the car where we wanted in qualifying but we went better in the race.”
Both Renaults made it into the top ten during Bahrain’s qualifying but annoyingly Palmer failed to score a point. The team were able to explain this, and Palmer considers it progress despite the disappointment.
But Renault cannot afford to rest on their laurels and must continue with their developments if they are to continue scoring vital points to challenge the midfield.
“There’s definitely been progress, but there’s certainly more to come. Getting into the top ten in qualifying for the first time in Bahrain was particularly satisfying,” he added. “I’d struggled a lot in the FP3 session, so myself and my engineer, Chris Richards, sat down and we changed the set-up of the car so it worked far better.
“My race in Bahrain was frustrating as we weren’t able to unlock the pace from the car – which was something Nico suffered from too.
“The real positive is that the team is taking a step forward at every race so we’re hopeful that Sochi continues in this vein. “