Formula 1 practice is an opportunity for drivers to feel out the track and create strategies with their team. Some drivers are more than experienced here at the Sochi Circuit in Russia, but that doesn’t mean their equipment has not improved with time along with their mentality. Since Ferrari is on a 3 race win-streak, close competitors in the Driver Championship like the Mercedes team and Max Verstappen will push themselves until the breaks are shredded.
In Friday’s practice, one thing was clear, turns 13 though 17 will be an issue for many. Due to the constant turning through these corners in such a short distance, drivers were locking up and losing speed in practice. In addition to these challenges comes a small decline within the turns. This part of the course will be treacherous for drivers who do not master their strategy in practice and will be a very difficult place for overtaking.
The top speed in Sochi is recorded at 205 MPH (329 KPH) and has 18 corners overall. The forecast is predicting rain in this part of the country which may add to a more difficult race for the drivers and a more appealing race for the viewers.
One major take away watching the F1 practice was how the turns were labeled in the bottom left corner when the camera angle covered the drivers. This same angle is given live but it does not include the turn numbers which can be confusing for fans.
The driver who practiced with the highest track speed was none other than Max Verstappen. His fastest lap was recorded at 1:33:162, but due to an internal combustion engine swap, Max will be penalized 5 seconds. Because of the part change, Max will need to finish at least 5 seconds earlier than his competitors to be within any striking distance of first place and is automatically denied pole position.
This type of penalty is the difference between 1st place and 5th in the drivers championship now that drivers are only separated by a few points.
Qualifiers are up next and you can be certain the top 3 teams, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing will bring the heat in order to snatch pole position in Sochi.