Paddy Lowe considers the Sochi track to be one of the season’s trickiest as its relatively new surface is smoother than what is usually seen.
This affects everything from the way that the car handles to the lifespan of the tyres, but does provide the opportunity for outwitting the competition with an “all out” strategy, as previously demonstrated by Nico Rosberg.
“This is just the fourth time we have headed to the Sochi Autodrom since the inaugural race here in 2014, so it is still a relatively new circuit with new tarmac,” he said.
“The surface is very smooth indeed, probably the smoothest we see all season, which does present some challenges.
“It can be difficult to warm up the tyres during qualifying and degradation is extremely low, as we saw when Nico Rosberg pitted on lap one in 2014 and managed the entire remainder of the race on that set of tyres.”
Sochi is a very technical track, the nature of which is not assisted by the cooler temperatures placing its own difficulties upon the tyres, but Lowe is happy in the FW40’s ability following a positive showing in Bahrain under the steerage of Felipe Massa.
“It is a circuit that requires good all round performance as it has a wide range of different speed corners and a long straight, requiring power and efficiency,” he continued.
“The long straight also provides one of the longest drags from the race start to the first turn, which gives some interesting opportunities for slipstreaming after the start itself.
“We are reasonably encouraged by the performance of the car in Bahrain, so we are optimistic for a strong race.”
Sochi hosted its first grand prix in 2014, with another three scheduled after this year as part of its seven-year contract. This makes it the youngest race on the roster currently, with support for the sport still in its infancy.
But the race has previously proven eventful and incident prone, and for Williams Martini Racing rather fruitful; Valtteri Bottas took third in 2014, and Massa has finished fourth and fifth, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
“The Formula one fan base in Russia is growing in this relatively new territory for the sport, so we look forward to putting on an exciting show for everybody this weekend,” he added.