Sochi evaluating track changes to boost F1 overtaking
Russian Grand Prix organisers are in talks with Formula 1 chiefs and the FIA about making changes to the Sochi circuit to help boost overtaking.
The twisty layout of the Sochi Autodrom, allied to the very smooth track surface, has resulted in a lack of spectacular racing since it joined the F1 calendar in 2014. There has been little passing and almost no strategy variation.
With F1's owner Liberty Media eager to lift excitement levels, thought is being given to changing some of the tracks on the calendar to make sure every event delivers.
Last year, Ross Brawn even singled out Sochi's smooth track surface as something that could need addressing if the venue was to produce better racing.
"If you look at circuits with very low degradation, like Sochi, the racing there is challenging and it is one stop," he said. "The tyres don't go off, so away you go. There are no performance differentials created."
Now, Sochi's new race promoters have revealed that they are evaluating what they can do to help the situation.
And although they have ruled out changing the track layout itself, they have hinted that a different asphalt type, or making some corners wider, may be enough to help improve matters.
Alexey Titov, the CEO of the Rosgonki company that has taken over the Russian Grand Prix, has told Motorsport.com that talks about what to do are advancing.
"Fans know that because of the layout of the Sochi Autodrom, it is a bit short on overtaking," he said. "That is why we are working with [F1 race director] Charlie Whiting, the FIA and FOM very closely.
"We want to try to change the situation by making some small technical tweaks. You won't necessarily see these from the grandstands or on the television, but we hope these tweaks will improve the sporting side of the races and we will have more overtaking.
"Theoretically it could be anything from widening or narrowing some parts of the track, to changing the asphalt which will affect the tyres differently. This can force teams to use different tactics."
Pushed on the timetable to make the changes, Titov said: "I don't thinks it's for 2018. But we're exploring these ideas. We are thinking about improving the situation."
Hulkenberg: Renault still needs two/three years
Not late this time: Newey's new Red Bull F1 hits the track ahead of schedule