The Sochi Autodrom has hosted the Russian Grand Prix since 2014, with it situated in the former Winter Olympics Park of the coastline town at the edge of the Black Sea. However, it’s never really served up a thrilling race, primarily due to it being made up of mostly 90-degree corners. Thankfully, the race will move to Igora Drive in 2023.
For now, though, here is our guide to the optimal Russian GP setup in F1 2021: a track that’s still challenging and does provide a somewhat fluid flow. As Sochi has only ever seen one or two wet practice sessions, and not a single wet race has taken place at the venue, the focus here is on the dry setup.
Best F1 2021 Russia (Sochi) Setup
|Component||F1 2021 Russia (Sochi) Dry Setup||F1 2021 Russia (Sochi) Wet Setup|
|Front Wing Aero||7||7|
|Rear Wing Aero||8||9|
|DT On Throttle||0.8||0.8|
|DT Off Throttle||0.60||0.60|
|Front Anti-Roll Bar||5||5|
|Rear Anti-Roll Bar||7||7|
|Front Ride Height||4||4|
|Rear Ride Height||7||7|
|Front Brake Bias||0.54||0.55|
|Front Right Tyre Pressure||23.0 psi||23.0 psi|
|Front Left Tyre Pressure||23.0 psi||23.0 psi|
|Rear Right Tyre Pressure||22.3 psi||22.3 psi|
|Rear Left Tyre Pressure||22.3 psi||22.3 psi|
Sochi has two long straights and then a complex infield section that requires plenty of downforce, as does the final sector. Thus, you need a well-balanced car that provides plenty of grip in the corners and then good straight-line speed.
We have gone for quite a neutral wing setup here, just cranking the rear up a bit as rear downforce is more vital at this circuit, but you still need a good front end. The rear, though, does need to be planted for the long, swooping left-hander that is Turn 4.
The vast majority of the corners are slow-speed or medium-speed at Sochi, so you need good outright traction and only need to worry about sustained cornering traction on Turn 4. You could, in fairness, lock the off-throttle setup a bit further to around 55 per cent, but 60 per cent leaves some room for you to play with if you need to and should ensure that you have the grip that you need.
We haven’t gone too drastic with our changes here. There are hardly any sustained corners in this Russian Grand Prix, so you won’t want excessive amounts of camber, or you’ll end up costing yourself when it comes to the traction needed out of the slow-speed corners.
Given how good you’ll need the front end and turning response to be for the really tight stuff in Sector 3 at Sochi, a slightly more aggressive toe setup is probably the way to go. You want more toe out at the front and more toe-in at the rear, and that will give you the best turning response possible.
Sochi is quite a smooth circuit without any real bumps on it other than perhaps down into Turn 2 or along the back straight. Beyond that, though, the surface is quite smooth. So, you can have stiffer springs to keep the car stable, and this won’t affect tyre life too much. Again, you can go for a stiffer anti-roll bar setting to keep things smooth and controlled in the corners.
You want to keep the ride height as high as possible to avoid spinning out over the kerbs, as is the case at a few venues on F1 2021. If you really clout the kerbs at Sochi, they will probably spin you around as a few of them are pretty brutal; you can’t afford to take liberties with them as you might have done on F1 2020.
You will certainly want a lot of pressure in Sochi for the heavy braking zones at the end of the straights, and be wary of the front tyres locking.
As Sochi isn’t too brutal on the tyres, then you certainly shouldn’t be afraid to crank those tyre pressures up. Any advantage in straight-line speed that you can get will serve you well, as Sochi’s best overtaking points are all after the two long straights and potentially even into Turn 5. Do keep an eye on tyre wear in practice, though, just to be certain that you’ve got the pressures nailed.
So, that’s our setup guide for the Russian GP in F1 2021. Sochi isn’t a thrilling track, with a lot of quite dull corners and sadly not a lot of undulation. Still, it is trickier than it looks. If you can be consistent and precise around the venue, you can pretty much ensure a solid race result.
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