Do you enjoy the Russian Grand Prix?
Nico Hulkenberg: I enjoy travelling to Russia. It’s an interesting place with plenty going on and lots of things to do. Sochi is still a fairly new venue to the Formula 1 calendar, but it is an enjoyable circuit to drive, and the Russian atmosphere is always quite good.
What’s there to say about the Sochi Autodrom?
NH: It’s one of the longer laps of the season, with lots of corners. That provides a challenge as you have to string together those combinations and get the sectors nailed perfectly; especially in qualifying. The track has a nice flow to it, it’s quick, and that’s why I like it. It’s a long straight off the line, before heavy braking into turn one followed by the long, on-going left-hander. It’s fast and flowing from there before the final sector which is a bit slower and features a couple of 90-degree turns. Rear tyre overheating is the main consideration for that part of the lap. Overall, though, it’s fun to drive.
What’s your record like in Russia?
NH: I ended my bad run in Sochi last season by finishing eighth, which was my second points finish in Renault colours. I haven’t had the best luck in Russia up until that after a couple of retirements, but we’ve put that behind us now and we’ll be aiming for another strong finish this season as well.
What’s the post-Singapore mood?
NH: It’s good to be back in the top ten after a difficult spell in our season. It’s important to score with both cars in our fight for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, so we have to draw on the positives from that. Of course, you always want more, and I can only help but feel there was more out there for us in Singapore. We’ll take a point and aim for an improved outing in Russia.
What are your thoughts on the Sochi Autodrom?
Carlos Sainz: Sochi is an interesting circuit and I have mixed memories there. The 2015 practice crash was a low point, but we dusted ourselves down well after that and fought our way back into the points after starting last before retiring. It’s a circuit where we have the potential to score some good points and I always prefer to look forward, so clearly this year the objective will be to make it into the top ten.
Talk us through a lap…
CS: It’s quite a long lap with three different sectors. The first is mainly full throttle with a long straight followed by a never-ending left-hander. The second sector flows well and is taken fairly fast with another long flat-out section leading into sector three, which is quite slow. The most special thing about the track is probably the long turn three, which puts the neck to work.
How much do you know about Sochi as a sporting venue?
CS: The Olympics in 2014 and the World Cup earlier this year have brought Sochi onto the sporting map in recent years. Spain didn’t have too much luck in the World Cup, and they did play a group match in Sochi against Portugal. Hopefully I can bring better luck for Spain next weekend by picking up more points!
What’s your advice to Artem Markelov for FP1?
CS: I’m missing out on FP1 next weekend, as Artem takes over for his first go in a Formula 1 car in an official practice session. I will help him out where I can, but having watched a bit of Formula 2 this season, I can see he is very talented and deserves the opportunity. Most Formula 1 drivers have been in a similar position to Artem, so I’d tell him to enjoy the moment and then the results will follow. After his run, I’ll be straight back out for FP2 and aiming to hit the ground running and get as many laps under my belt as possible. We need to keep the momentum going.