F1 made its first trip to the Sochi Autodrome as recently as 2014. The Hermann Tilke designed circuit is built effectively as a street circuit that circles the Sochi Winter Olympic Park. The circuit is one of the flattest on the calendar with plenty of similar 90-degree corners. However, the addition of the high-speed, long left-hander of Turn 3 really makes for a different kind of challenge.
Sector 3 of Sochi is still full of 90 degree corners, but this time the speeds are a little lower. By this point in the lap, the tyres are toasty so getting good traction is key out of the slow corners. The tricky braking into Turn 13 is also a particular challenge here.
Turn 12 is basically a kink in the braking zone of T13. Following the high-speed back straight, hug the right side for longer than you think and then just before you hit the brakes turn left so that you make a straight line across the track towards the kerb. Straight-line braking is the goal, so don't just follow the kerb.
Turn 13 brings the speed right down, the first 2nd gear corner on the track in fact. Ususal kerb practice applies here, keep off that orange kerb!
Since T14 is just after, you want to be giving up some of the exit speed here so that you get a better exit out of T14. Place the car no further left than the middle of the track.
Widen the entry as much as possible out of T13 so that in Turn 14 you can keep the minimum speed up and get a better exit.
Short shift up to 4th gear just as you get to the apex to dull the power and avoid the wheelspin. You don't want to be getting on that sausage kerb either.
On the exit let the car drift naturally but don't run out too wide too soon or you will simply be travelling unnecessary distance.
Hit the brakes for Turn 15 just as you pass the crane on the right. Shift down to 3rd gear for the apex.
This one is off-camber so it can be a little tricky to get the nose in and you may need to go a little slower than you think. You might also be able to clip the sausage kerb a little bit to help combat this but don't hit it too much.
Sacrifice some of the exit out of Turn 15 to give a wider entry into T16 and therefore a better run out. Target the middle of the track.
Try to make a late apex in Turn 16 and short-shift to 4th gear mid-corner for better traction and a better exit.
Mis the sausage kerb and run out right up to the wall to maximise the speed going towards T17.
Another 90 degree right-hander means rinse and repeat. 4th gear this time. The light box is a good braking reference. The sausage kerb is again off-limits.
Use all of the exit kerb and straddle it all the way along until you turn in for T18.
What can I say? Sochi delivers yet another 90 right. This is the last one I promise! Brake as you go under the bridge, turn in from the kerb and attack the apex in 2nd gear.
Since the timing line is very soon after the corner, the best way to gain time is on the entry so don't worry too much about the exit. Run as wide as you need but be careful of the grass.