Many years in the making, the Russian Grand Prix debuted on the Formula 1 calendar in 2014 at the purpose-built Sochi Autodrom circuit in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone announced plans for a Moscow Grand Prix in the early 1980’s, but the race never got off the ground due to bureaucratic issues. After several further false starts in the 2000’s, the Russian Grand Prix was officially announced in 2010, the same year that Russia’s first Formula 1 driver, Vitaly Petrov, debuted on the grid for Renault. The race was to be held at a brand new, purpose-built circuit in Sochi.
Sochi Autodrom was constructed as part of the Olympic Park precinct in the district of Adler for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which hosted indoor events such as ice hockey and skating, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Sochi Autodrom was classified as an official Olympic venue, even though it hosted no events during the games.
Designed by Hermann Tilke, the circuit features permanent pit and paddock facilities, but also runs on several sections of public road past landmarks such as the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Adler Arena Skating Centre. The first race of a seven-year contract was staged in October 2014, just eight months after the Winter Olympics. A further five-year contract has already been signed to guarantee the Russian Grand Prix’s position on the F1 calendar until at least 2025.
- Measuring 5.848km long, Sochi Autodrom is the fourth-longest circuit on the F1 calendar behind Spa-Francorchamps, Baku City Circuit and Silverstone.
- All four races to date at the Sochi Autodrom have been won by Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton won the first two races, while the last two have been won by Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas respectively. Bottas’ win in 2017 was his first in Formula 1. .
- Sergey Sirotkin will make his debut on home soil for Williams this year, becoming just the second local driver to race in the Russian Grand Prix. The Turn 1 Grandstand at Sochi Autodrom has been named after Sirotkin for 2018.
- Speaking of Russian drivers, Daniil Kvyat has competed in all four Russian GP’s to date, scoring a best finish of 5th place for Red Bull Racing in 2015. Although Kvyat will not be competing in his home race this year, he is in rumoured to be in contention for a return to the grid with Toro Rosso in 2019.
- Sochi is the only Winter Olympics host city to have also staged a Formula 1 race, though four current F1 cities – Melbourne, Montreal, Barcelona and Mexico City – have hosted the Summer Olympics.