Charles Leclerc will compete at the Sochi Autodrom for the first time this weekend, with the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team driver looking for another top ten finish in a season that has already seen him do enough to earn himself a promotion to Scuderia Ferrari for 2019.
The Monegasque racer finished ninth last time out in the Singapore Grand Prix for his sixth top ten finish of the season, and it ended a run of five consecutive Grand Prix without a point.
Now Leclerc is ready for the new challenge of Sochi, and he hopes to get into a good rhythm quickly so to have a strong Russian Grand Prix weekend.
“It will be interesting to drive at Sochi for the first time,” said Leclerc. “It is a new track for me, but I have driven it in the simulator in the past so I am fairly familiar with its layout.
“The corners on this circuit are all quite consistent and similar. For me, it will be all about getting into the rhythm of the track and being up to speed as soon as possible.”
Whereas Leclerc is Ferrari-bound, his current team-mate Marcus Ericsson will step down from his Sauber drive in favour of Antonio Giovinazzi in 2019, leaving him as the official reserve driver and brand ambassador.
However, the Swede is optimistic of a strong weekend in Russia, particularly after getting so close to the points last time out in Singapore.
“I look forward to being back in Russia,” said Ericsson. “The Sochi Autodrom is quite a difficult track with low grip making it a challenge to get the tyres and car to work well on this specific type of surface.
“In terms of driving, the most complex part of the circuit is the last sector, which is quite technical. It is important to have a good car set-up and balance to make sure that you can get a good lap time.
“After a strong last weekend, it will be interesting to see what we can do at the next Grand Prix. I can’t wait to be back in the car.”