Formula One heads to the Sochi Autodrom in Russia this weekend for round 10 of the 2020 season.
The Russian Grand Prix is held annually at the Black Sea town of Sochi, located roughly one thousand miles south of Moscow, and this year it’s one of the few races on the revised 2020 calendar to stick to the original schedule.
The Sochi Autodrom is actually a street circuit that winds its way through the former site of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, taking in the Sochi Medals Plaza and the Bolshoy Ice Dome. The layout was devised by renowned German race track architect Herman Tilke and measures 3.63 miles in length.
It’s made up of a combination of long straights and sweeping hairpins plus some slow 90-degree turns. And because the track is still relatively new—the first Russian race was only in 2014—and rarely used throughout the year, it has one of the smoothest surfaces of any track this season.
Sochi Autodrom, home of the Formula One Russian Grand Prix
This smooth surface, together with mild, sunny weather forecast for the weekend, means Pirelli is going with its three softest tire compounds: C3, C4 and C5.
A major F1 record could be equalled this weekend. Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton has won 90 races since the start of his F1 career in 2007, and the record is the 91 set by Michael Schumacher. Hamilton is also on track this season to equal Schumacher’s tally of seven world championships, though the end of the season is still some time away.
After the initial practice on Friday, Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was the fastest, followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The session was marred by two crashes caused by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.
Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Hamilton leads the 2020 Drivers’ Championship with 190 points. Bottas is second with 135 points and Verstappen is third with 110 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 325 points versus the 173 of Red Bull and 106 of McLaren. Last year’s winner in Sochi was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.