After last year’s successful inaugural race, the Russian Grand Prix held at the Sochi Autodrom returns to host the 16th round of the 2015 Formula One World Championship this weekend. The Sochi Autodrom is one of the longest in F1 at 3.63 miles and circumnavigates the 2014 Winter Olympic venues as well as some public roads. It is located in the heart of Russia’s Black Sea resort area.

Designed by German architect Herman Tilke, the circuit boasts some of his signature designs such as long straights and sweeping hairpins, but there are also some slow sections that feature 90-degree corners. The relatively new asphalt surface is still very smooth, which means low grip. And the mostly medium speed corners mean tire wear and degradation are generally low.

As a result, Pirelli has nominated its soft and supersoft compounds, a softer pairing than last year’s inaugural race. With no prior race data to go on back then, a deliberately conservative choice was made, but with real race information now available, a nomination more precisely suited to the exact characteristics of the Sochi Autodrom has been made.

Ambient temperatures should reach only 68 degrees F (20 degrees C), and it’s unlikely we’ll see much rain over the weekend, though Friday’s practice session may be affected.

Going into the weekend, Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton leads the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with 277 points, with his teammate Nico Rosberg second with 229 points and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third with 218 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes is the clear leader with 506 points versus the 337 of Ferrari and 208 of Williams.

Last year’s winner of the Russian Grand Prix was Hamilton.


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