Sochi brings the second of three ‘S’ races in a row. After going all night-fever in Singapore, we swing by Sochi before setting off again to Suzuka. Simple sibilance to remember where we’re going next on the 2018 rollercoaster.
Sochi is a “hat-trick” city, having hosted an Olympic Games (the winter one of 2014 challenged by a *supercooled-water-droplets deficiency), a Football World Cup match and, of course, a Formula 1 Grand Prix. For those who take pub quizzes very **seriously, here are a few for your revision sheet. Three other cities also hold that triple crown: Barcelona, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. Sochi is also home of the northernmost tea plantation in the world, is nicknamed the “summer capital of Russia” and is the second longest city in the world at 90 miles. Well, now you know.
Another nugget of information to add to your aforementioned pub revision list is the fact that Russia is a massive country. The largest country in the world in fact and 1.8 times the size of the USA. Huge. 14 countries border Russia, which has a whopping nine time zones. It would take 250 days to walk across Russia, assuming the average human walks 5km/h for 8 hours a day. If you start now, you’d only miss the first few races of next season. If you do decide to take on the challenge, pack an extra jacket or three, and don’t go via the village of Oymyakon, it once reached -71°C there. Makes you feel chilly just thinking about it. Brrrrr.
We’ve had a couple of Russian drivers in our ranks across time. Vitaly, Sergey (no, not the meerkat) and now the honour falls to Artem Markelov; our resident Russian. When he’s not licking stamps in Formula 2 or conducting his Test & Development Driver duties, Artem is put to use as our Russian translator and guide. He has his uses. Once he’s shown us the sights and completed his translations, we might let Artem drive in FP1… if he’s well behaved. If you don’t know too much about Artem, then make sure you watch Formula 2 this weekend, he’s known to be pure box office.
Russia is a big and important market for Renault, and the land of the legendary Lada range. It’s going to be a fun one away from the track for us, and we’ll be ensuring Artem is kept busy shaking hands and saying “Zdravstvuitye” to everyone and anyone. Simples.
At 90 miles in length, naturally, there’s so much room for activities in Sochi. It’s on the doorstep of the Black Sea, so take a dip and go wild in the 436,000km2 area of water (we haven’t done the maths yet on how long it would take to swim end to end)! Skiing is out of reach as it doesn’t hit proper winter until late December, so your inner James Bond will have to be put on hold. A visit to the Vorontsovka Caves is another cool thing to do in the area (yes, you can go full 007 for that one if you really want), and boasts the world’s deepest cave, the Voronya cave.
The Olympic Park is a popular tourist spot, but there’s more to Sochi than just sport and James Bond. It boasts the Winter Theatre, the singing fountains in the city centre, art and history museums, an aquarium and a cool looking theme park close to the circuit. Rollercoasters by race tracks is a common theme at the moment; first Suzuka (next weekend) and today, Sochi. Not that we’ll have time to enjoy the park (*adds driver interview on Suzuka Ferris Wheel to next race weekend’s schedule…*)
Sochi is a hidden gem and there’s much more to do, see and learn than meets the eye. With a plethora of interesting facts to impress your friends and an ample of things explore, the Russian Grand Prix is a good’un.
And, wow, would you look at that? For the first time this season, we didn’t even mention food!
*Also known as ‘lack of snow’ to those who aren’t wired up like an engineer.