Connect with us


F1: Prayers, politics, practices and plans

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Well, apart from Rosberg’s DNF, Singapore went according to form, and Japan of course was affected by a typhoon. This weekend, F1 finally arrives in Russia for its first time at the pristine Sochi Autodrom. It’s hard to bet against a Mercedes 1st and 2nd here, with Red Bull’s cars not far behind and a good showing from Williams and Ferrari. Between the two Mercedes, perhaps it’s Nico Rosberg’s turn again.

But it’s a new track, and maybe Sochi can surprise us. Teams think data from Singapore is likely to be the most reliable guide, with a similar blend of tight corners and intense straights.

Marussia’s Jules Bianchi is still in a critical condition in Japan following his horrifying crash into the back of a tractor at Suzuka last weekend, so Marussia will field only one car as a mark of respect. I am sure the whole paddock has him in their thoughts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may also be in a critical condition. The great showman uncharacteristically celebrated his birthday on Tuesday alone in a forest. Russia’s Ukraine adventure gained nothing except sanctions for a country in an economic crisis. Russia’s central bank injected US$50 billion of currency reserves just to keep the rouble sinking stably, foreign investment fell by 50 per cent and the Finance Minister called for a cut in lavish defence spending. Defence expenditure is what broke the USSR, and would sink Russia too. An economy smaller than the UK’s cannot hope to keep military pace with the US and Europe combined.

F1 is no stranger to internal politics; Bernie Ecclestone, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the constructors, the drivers and the engineers continually pirouette in an infinitely variable money-machine of byzantine complexity. Sebastian Vettel is off to Ferrari, and Alonso is on the move too, probably to McLaren. What odds might I get on Lewis Hamilton going home to McLaren as well? The Bahrain F1 has provided street politics, the Shanghai GP is a shop window for China amidst local apathy, and Rio provides everyone with war stories. So what of Russia?

In the midst of economic gloom, empty cheese shelves and the Ukraine debacle, F1 provides Russians with a chance for much desired glamor. It also allows Russia to be center of a world stage in a positive manner. It will be interesting to see who comes to Sochi to benefit from it. The Times claims Putin, who is “a close friend” of Bernie Ecclestone, will be there. There’s even a t-shirt with the President’s head photoshopped onto one of Ralph Schumacher’s old Toyota F1 suits.

Russia wants a good show, and I am optimistic they will provide it.

Daniil Kvyat, F1’s youngest points scorer, will be the only Russian on the grid for the inaugural race and the grandstand has been named after him.

Sochi Autodrom is 5.8k, the third-longest circuit on the calendar behind Spa and Silverstone. It runs with average speeds around 210km/h, top speeds of around 320, and more than 50 per cent of the lap on open throttle. The corners have different radii, to keep drivers honest. There are two drag reduction system (DRS) zones, one between turn 1 and 2 with the detection point prior to turn 1 and the second between turn 10 and 12 with the detection immediately before turn 10.

There are opportunities to pass, the right-hander of turn 13; out-braking opportunities going into turn 2; and strategists will look to line up moves through turn 4 and 5.

The complex turn 2-3 may be the key. Turn 2 is a 90-degree right-hander at the end of the main straight, with a small left-hand kink leading into a long sweeping turn 3. Track designer Hermann Tilke estimates an approach at around 120km/h, accelerating to around 200km/h before braking into right-hander turn 4. This will scar tyres throughout.

Pirelli, as ever, is aiming for between two and three pit stops. They are bringing the medium and soft tyres, a combination last seen in Belgium. The ability to manage tyre wear has been the decider so far this season. So, watch for how drivers perform here.

Comparisons are being drawn between Sochi, Valencia and Singapore. However, turn 3 looks like the famous turn 8 at Istanbul.

No doubt President Putin will wish to be on camera to soften his image. But of course his problems – like those of all politicians – are not his enemies, but his friends. Russian leaders are removed by those closest to them. Will any of them appear to bask in Bernie’s aura?

Because Sochi is a brand-new track, don’t take too much notice of practice times. Teams were working on set-up rather than outright pace. Qualifying is going to be very interesting.

The race is on Sunday at 6pm, and Qualifying on Saturday at the same time. Join me at The Green Man to watch it on The Big Screen.

— The Digby


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 mins ago

Embassy of France in Thailand starts vaccine campaign for French nationals ages 55+

Road deaths38 mins ago

Driver killed after truck crashes from bridge, explodes in Hat Yai

Bangkok1 hour ago

Bangkok public hospitals run low on beds for Covid-19 patients in critical condition

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Lao woman rejected while trying to register for Covid-19 vaccine

Hong Kong2 hours ago

First person charged under Hong Kong security law goes to trial – without a jury

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Medical researchers look into combining vaccines to beat Delta variant

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 3,174 new cases and 51 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Restrictions eased in yellow zones

Phuket4 hours ago

It’s happening: Phuket sandbox approved by Cabinet

Thailand18 hours ago

Thailand News Today | AoT warns about tourist exuberance, easing of restrictions | June 22

Coronavirus (Covid-19)19 hours ago

CCSA: Bars to stay closed for now, drunk customers risk the spread of Covid-19

Bangkok19 hours ago

Woman dies after jumping from Phra Khanong BTS station in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

263 covid cases linked to canned seafood factory in Songkhla

Drugs20 hours ago

Narcotics Control Board announce recent drug busts, heroin and cocaine sent by mail

Environment20 hours ago

3 Cambodian activists arrested for plotting against the government/insulting the king after documenting waste run-off

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8