Racing Point’s Szafnauer – “It’s one to take on the chin and bounce back”

by Findlay Grant

Racing Point F1 Team‘s Lance Stroll has described the Sochi Autodrom as a circuit which is “satisfying to drive” ahead of the Russian Grand Prix this weekend.

“I always find it interesting going to Sochi and seeing all the buildings from the Olympic Games,” said Stroll. “I love winter sports so it’s great to see it up close.

I’ve not been up to the mountains or anything, but I remember last year seeing the mountain tops covered with snow in the distance.

“It’s a really nice idea to build a track that makes its way through the old Olympic site,” added the Canadian.

The Silverstone-based outfit have gone well in previous years, with both Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez finishing in the points last year.

“It’s a track that’s satisfying to drive and it suits my style. I feel it’s going to be a track where we can be competitive. It’s a very smooth surface and that allows you to be more aggressive compared to some other circuits,” Stroll added.

Stroll compared the Sochi circuit to the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore and the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, because of the similarities in that they both have long straights which lead into slower and medium speed corners.

“In many ways it’s quite similar to Singapore and Abu Dhabi – tracks with some long straights that are followed by slower and medium speed corners. The DRS has quite a big impact in Sochi, but it’s still tough to overtake.”

Stroll’s team-mate, the Mexican Sergio Pérez, also has fond memories of the circuit, securing a podium there in 2015.

“Sochi is a track where I have good memories. My podium there [in 2015] was a really special result, where we chose a different strategy compared to the others and it really worked out well,” said Pérez.

“I remember I was under big pressure from behind. There was quite a bit of drama on the last lap, but we came through to take the podium.”

Like Stroll, the Mexican compared the Autodrom to a street circuit in parts.

“The Sochi track feels like a mix of a street track and permanent circuit. It’s quite a challenge and it doesn’t allow for any mistakes, especially the final sector where the walls are quite close. It can be very tricky and feels narrow.”

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer remains optimistic ahead of the race despite not securing the result they would have liked last time out in Singapore.

“We had a messy weekend in Singapore, but took away some positives too. The race pace was competitive, although we couldn’t really demonstrate it given our starting positions and race circumstances,” said Szafnauer.

“The race seemed to be coming to us, and it looked as though points were within reach, but we ran out of good fortune in the end. It’s one to take on the chin and bounce back in Sochi this weekend.”

He added that the updates the team brought to the car ahead of Singapore were now making a noticeable difference.

“The updates we introduced in Singapore have given us a performance step and I think the races coming up will allow us to extract even more from them.”

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