RUS­SIAN GP PRE­VIEW F1 RE­TURNS AFTER A 100-YEAR GAP

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS - Pat Sy­monds Wil­liams chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer

There hasn’t been a Rus­sian Grand Prix since 1914 when the race ended its short-lived twoyear ap­pear­ance on the cal­en­dar. Now tak­ing place at the Sochi Au­to­drom, the rst grand prix in Rus­sia for over a hun­dred years will be a mile­stone event. And given that it will be held on a track with which none of the teams or driv­ers are fa­mil­iar, it will def­i­nitely make for a chal­leng­ing and un­pre­dictable week­end.

A lot of prepa­ra­tion is done be­fore any team ar­rives at a new venue. Typ­i­cally, the driv­ers will get to know the track on sim­u­la­tors back at base to try to un­der­stand the lines they may want to take. This method isn’t per­fect, how­ever, be­cause even at well-known cir­cuits there are lit­tle nu­ances that can’t eas­ily be cap­tured by sim­u­la­tors. It has also been dif­fi­cult to ob­tain per­mis­sion for Li­DAR scan­ning in Rus­sia, so the track to­pog­ra­phy has been es­tab­lished from sur­vey­ors’ draw­ings.

In ad­di­tion to driver-in-the-loop sim­u­la­tion, en­gi­neers will also con­duct com­puter sim­u­la­tions to ar­rive at some kind of base setup to start the week­end. They will also make use of scanned track-sur­face data to es­ti­mate the likely tyre degra­da­tion and wear so they can for­mu­late base strate­gies be­fore the week­end starts. Run­ning plans for the week­end will also be de­ter­mined with the new track in mind, try­ing to get driv­ers and en­gi­neers as fa­mil­iar with the cir­cuit as pos­si­ble.

The track lay­out will pose a chal­lenge for this year’s power units: there are a cou­ple of high-speed sec­tions, but en­gi­neers have no prior knowl­edge of how to op­ti­mise en­ergy re­cov­ery and de­ploy­ment. At this stage, it’s un­clear whether the race will be fuel-limited, but if it is this will pose an even big­ger chal­lenge as teams and driv­ers will need to prac­tice and per­fect their fuel-sav­ing tech­niques.

This is sure to be an ex­cit­ing and his­toric event as teams do their best to get up to speed quicker and more ef­fi­ciently than their com­peti­tors.

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