Renault Sport F1 offers its thoughts ahead of the Russian Grand Prix. A circuit we’ve never raced on before and the challenges that presents to teams and power units.
RÉMI TAFFIN, RENAULT SPORT F1 HEAD OF TRACK OPERATIONS
Sochi is a brand new track on the calendar this year, but the characteristics are very similar to other circuits we have visited in the past or this season. It is actually most like Singapore or the street track in Valencia we visited from 2008 to 2012 – a high-speed, street track with tight corners. From our simulations we see that the average speed will be 200kph, with approximately 56% of the lap spent at wide open throttle, well above the ‘traditional’ street average.
The long lap opens with a short burst of wide open throttle. The pit straight blends into a right hand curve where the driver will keep the speed until the braking point for Turn 2, giving a total burst of speed for some 14 seconds. The ICE and turbo will therefore be put under pressure, but there is only one other period of duress round the lap for these parts; the curve from Turn 10 to 13 at the back of the track.
Sector two is much more point-squirt, with right-angled turns that give the MGU-K plenty of chance to recover energy. The two corners that round the Olympic building, Turns 2 and 4, are the hardest stops and see the car speed drop to 100kph, with each braking event around 2.5 seconds. The back of the circuit has similar corners, such as Turn 13 where the speed drops to 85kph, making it quite tricky for the drivers to judge, but providing several overtaking opportunities.
While a new race requires a lot more preparation before we go, we have been able to work quite efficiently by using data from other circuits with similar traits. It helps, for example, that we visited Singapore relatively recently, which has the same blend of tight corners linked by intense straights. In this respect we believe the Power Unit will perform well here since this type of track suits the characteristics of the Energy F1-2014 quite well. As we saw in Singapore the gap between the cars at the front is likely to be very small so we should be in for a good race.
RENAULT ENERGY F1-2014 FAST FACTS
Sochi is the third longest lap on the calendar after Spa and Silverstone. At over 5.8km fuel consumption per lap will be high, but with plenty of tight corners and short bursts of power the high rate will be balanced out by energy recovery via the MGU-K and MGU-H, so we do not expect to be on the 100kg fuel limit permitted for the race.
To prepare for the race, engineers have conducted work on the transient dyno to simulate a full lap of the track and the performance dyno for certain performance items we think will be of particular use in Sochi.
The weather in Sochi is similar to Europe at this time of year, with maximum ambient temperatures averaging 20°C during the day. It can however be very cold in the morning and evening. With the race starting at 15:00hrs local time it is therefore likely that the ambient temperatures will be colder at the end of the race than at the start. This will affect tyre performance and is something strategists will have to factor in, particularly if the race is very tight.
As a new race on the calendar, the biggest challenge will be correlating the simulations to the track performance. The novelty of the track will make preparations intense and the workload will be busy over the course of the weekend. Most teams will be conservative on Friday as they scope out the track and conditions, getting progressively more aggressive as the weekend progresses.