• Russian Grand Prix

Drivers surprised by Sochi circuit challenge

ESPN Staff
October 10, 2014 « Vettel expecting struggles to continue | Who said what after Friday practice »
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Formula One's drivers have reacted with surprise about the technical nature of the Sochi Autodrom circuit after the first practice sessions of the Russian Grand Prix on Friday.

Lewis Hamilton: "I actually really like it. I'm really enjoying driving it and it's got a really nice flow to it. It's not too bumpy, the corners are challenging and if you get the lines right you can put together really nice sectors. The tyres are not falling apart, which they often do at other tracks, and that makes it more fun because you can do lap after lap after lap."

Romain Grosjean: "It's very nice to drive and much closer to a racing track than a street circuit. There are a few walls but they are quite far away and it's quite quick. It's 120km/h-140km/h in the corners so it's third and fourth gear mainly. It's going to be quite tough to overtake unless the DRS is powerful, and the braking itself is difficult.

"The [pit] straight is quite long but then the DRS opens quite late in the middle of Turn 1 and then if you close the door [into Turn 2], braking is going to be quite difficult and you cannot go to the outside because the guy [on the inside] will push you wide. You need a good top speed."

Valtteri Bottas: "It's actually a positive surprise, I have to say, the track. It's actually quite technical, not easy, and it's quite a good feeling to drive. It seems to be not too bad for our car as well so overall a good day. Turn 3 is cool but it would be better if it was more challenging, it's quite easy flat. But it's cool because it's so different from any corner at any other track.

"[The circuit] seems to be quite smooth, which made the tyres last really long and we didn't have much drop-off. Also it made getting the most out of the tyres in the first lap really difficult so we have work to do to get more out sooner, at the moment it takes too long to get the tyre to work."

Daniel Ricciardo: "It's more technical and difficult than I thought on paper. It's harder to get the lap together. There's a lot more off-camber corners which is probably fun for a driver but does make it challenging and I think a lot of mistakes were made today from quite a few guys. I'd like to be a bit quicker but in general I think it's been a good first day and it should provide a good challenge.

"[Turn 13] is really quick. You open with DRS and just before you brake the car, it gets a bit light. I think some people were opting to take the DRS off early just to get some more stability on braking. It's tricky, but good fun actually, a good challenge."

Sebastian Vettel: "I think we knew more or less what to expect, but the definition is better in reality than it is in the sim. There are quite a lot of corners, especially in sector two, 90 degree corners and right handers. There's quite a lot of grip down there so I think the tyre choice [from Pirelli] is very good and we should have an interesting qualifying tomorrow."

Nico Rosberg: "It's a good track. Interesting, challenging - it's good. It's always different [to what you expect]. The simulator is just a computer so it's always different to driving on the circuit in real life."

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