Lance Stroll is still awaiting his first Formula 1 finish, but the Canadian arrives in Sochi for the first time having never raced there in person or simulation.
So far his preparations have consisted of watching a replay of last season’s race.
But Stroll isn’t letting his lack of experience dampen his spirits, however, and says he is comfortable with these new experiences. In fact, he enjoys finding the track’s quirks.
“This is certainly one of the most difficult tracks for me to talk about as I have never been there or done it on the sim yet,” he said. “I did watch last year’s race but still have to really see how the track is.
“However, I do enjoy going to new tracks. They all have their own particular characteristics and it is fun to find these out.”
His first priority will be conducting a track walk with his engineering team in order to map out the circuit, warts and all. Even the slightest of imperfections can prove detrimental when running over them in the car.
“Obviously the first experience I will have is the Thursday track walk, which I do with my engineers,” he continued. “It is surprising how much you can learn about a track by walking it that is still relevant when you are going round at speed in an F1 car.
“You get to know the bumps and have a feel for how the car will react.”
All that is left to do after they have made their inspections is for Stroll to put all he has learnt to use during practice. This may sound simple but as no two tracks are similar, and the climate is far from perfect, it can take many laps just for the driver to get used to it, let alone master it.
“When learning a new one there is no set number of laps it takes, as sometimes you get into it very quickly and others it takes a bit more time,” he added. “It just depends on the track and your feeling and how long it takes to get into a rhythm.”
In a stark contrast, Williams Martini Racing team-mate Felipe Massa is feeling confident going into the weekend.
In comparison to his younger counterpart, Massa has enjoyed two point scoring finishes out of a possible three. And the Russian Grand Prix has been kind to the Brazilian in the past, which only adds to his excitement.
“Sochi is a really nice track to drive and it’s a race I enjoy a lot,” Massa said.
“In the past it’s a track we have done well at – I finished fourth and fifth in 2015 and 2016 – so I’m hoping we can have another good race there this year.
“The event has been getting bigger every year so I’m really looking forward to going back again.“