Just like Formula One, GP2 Series will race for the first time in Russia this week.
The penultimate round of the 2014 GP2 Series season will take place this weekend in uncharted territory at Sochi Autodrom in Russia. Last month at Monza, Jolyon Palmer got one step closer to the crown surviving a disqualification and being thrown to the back of the starting grid of the feature race.
But the Brit showed once again his fighting spirit by slicing his way through the field up to eighth place. The following day, he triumphed from reverse pole whilst his closest rival Felipe Nasr missed out on the opportunity to close the gap.
I cannot wait for it because I want to show Russians what racing is about.
The Brazilian driver cannot afford any mistakes now if he wishes to keep his title hopes alive until Yas Marina next month. Sochi could be the perfect place to do that as no one knows what to expect from the new track – the third longest of the season.
Although drivers have been working hard on simulators before flying to Russia, and engineers have been studying every single aspect of the layout, it will not be until the free practice session is complete that they will be able to collect real data and will have a clearer view of what to expect for the rest of the race weekend.
Pirelli have selected Medium and Soft tyres for this event. Their management over the course of each lap will be important again, and the performance gap between the two compounds is yet to be seen, which will put the emphasis on strategy. There will be one driver change this weekend as Tio Ellinas returns to the field at Rapax in replacement of Adrian Quaife-Hobbs in car #14.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola
“We expect the asphalt to be not particularly abrasive as this is a semi-permanent street circuit, although we’ve not actually had an asphalt sample to assess – so this will be the biggest unknown factor. While the GP2 teams have simulators, the free practice time is extremely limited, so this will be a big test for the drivers – as they will have to understand the lines quickly and get the most out of the car before qualifying.
The teams are likely to use just the medium tyre in free practice, so this means that the qualifying run is set to be the first time that they use the soft tyre: a very big challenge. Tyre management is sure to be an important fact, as Turn 3 takes a lot of energy out of the tyres, even though the overall tyre energy demand of the track is not so high.”
Warm Up — Artem Markelov - RT Russian Time
“It’s amazing that GP2 are going to Russia for the first time this year. It feels like the beginning of a new era. I cannot wait for it because I want to show Russians what racing is about. They’ve never seen a GP2 race live and I’m sure they will not be disappointed. The layout looks very challenging and interesting. It’s a long track with high-speed corners. I have been working on the simulator to prepare as best as possible, but you know, every track has been new to me this season so I will approach this weekend like I always have. I will have to learn quickly during the free practice and make the most of the 45 minute session.
“I want to do the best I can this weekend. It would be amazing to take my first GP2 podium in my home country, but it will be very hard. Of course, anything is possible. My goal is to finish in the top ten. There will be a lot of friends coming to support me this weekend. I want to make them proud.”
• There is one driver change this weekend: Tio Ellinas returns to GP2 at Rapax in replacement of Adrian Quaife-Hobbs in car #14.
• In the Drivers’ standings, Jolyon Palmer is 41 points ahead of Felipe Nasr.
• In the Teams’ standings, DAMS are leading Carlin – 294 points compared to 256 points.
• Pierre Gasly (Caterham Racing) will lose five grid positions for Sochi’s Feature Race following a penalty picked during Monza Sprint Race.