The Sochi Autodrom, previously the Sochi International Street Circuit, is a 5.872 km Formula One circuit. The circuit is similar to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the Sydney Olympic Park Circuit as it runs in close proximity to an Olympic venue. In this case, it was the Sochi Olympic Park, home to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The track is actually 15km southeast of Sochi proper in the resort town of Adlerskiy, and less than two km away from the border with the country of Georgia. It is on landfill, along the coast of the Black Sea.
Plans for hosting the Winter Olympics in the Sochi area have existed since the latter days of the Soviet Union. After the United States had hosted the Winter Games at Salt Lake City in 2002, officials in Krasnodar Krai, the district that contains Sochi, revisited those plans, and made a proposal to the Russian Olympic Committee. Gaining that approval, they set out to plan the proposed games, including the facilities needed. While the outdoor events would be held in the mountains to the east, most of the events and structures would be held by the coast of the Black Sea, which has a Mediterranean climate. The Olympic Village, along with various arenas and infrastructure sites, were constructed on the seafront at the town of Aldersky, southeast of Sochi proper, and close to the international border with Georgia.
During this period, members of the Russian Automobile Federation approached the Olympic planning group, and inquired about devising a race track at the Aldersky site, capable of hosting Formula One. The spaced layout of the Olympic venues made planning a track fairly easy, and construction of the pit and infrastructure buildings started in 2013. In the spring of 2014, construction of the track commenced in earnest, and was completed well in advance of the first Grand Prix.
The circuit has two configurations: the long Grand Prix circuit, measuring 5.872 km/3.649 miles, and the short Permanent circuit, measuring 2.313 km/1.437 miles. Neither has changed since they were constructed. Both circuits use the main pits and paddock, which is to the northeast of the Olympic centre, and less than 200 meters from the new train station.
The lap starts heading southeast, towards the venues and the Black Sea. The front straight is more than a kilometer long. Roughly halfway along is a sweeping, 30° right bend, taken flat out but referred to as Turn 1. At the end of the straight, Turn 2 is a sharp, tight 90° right. This is where overly optimistic drivers often get into trouble on the first lap, and there is a surplus of runoff area here, but for the remainder of the race this is the best passing spot. After a very short straight, the cars start into Turn 3, a very wide, long and fast 180° left hander that is over 600 meters long. This turn almost completely surrounds the Poyushchiye Fontany, or Singing Fountain, and was the central pedestrian plaza of the 2014 games. It puts enormous stress on the left side tires, but better handling cars can use it to set up a pass.
The long bend ends with another very short straight before Turn 4, another sharp, tight 90° right. Another straight takes the cars to Turn 5, a wider 90° that is the closest point to the Black Sea. It is followed by a longer straight, with another flat out kink in the middle, called Turn 6. The straight ends at Turn 7, another tight and sharp right. A quick straight leads to Turns 8 and 9, both lefthanders which are close enough together to be taken as one, but make for a tricky combination of more than 90°. They lead to Turn 10, another tight 90° right, leading onto the 'back straight', actually a long (3⁄4km) and flat out "S" bend, with the righthander called Turn 11 and the left Turn 12. This ends at Turn 13, a 100° right and an excellent place to pass. A very short straight passes beneath the vehicle bridge to the infield, then Turn 14 is a double-apex sweeping left. The cars now hit Turns 15 and 16, basically a medium speed left-right chicane to move behind the pit building and paddock. A moderate straight leads past the paddock and pit in, then Turn 18 is a tight 80° right, followed soon by Turn 19, a 100° right, and the cars are back to the line.
The pit lane is one of the longest in Formula One, with the cars entering before Turn 18, and rejoining the track after Turn 1. It is also fairly narrow by current standards, but there have not been any public comments on the subject. The "permanent" circuit, which has proved popular for amateur racing and drifting competitions, is little more than the pit section with a short connecting link. Officially it uses a sharp 90° right halfway between Turns 1 and 2, followed by a sweeping left, and a hairpin right rejoins the Grand Prix circuit just before Turn 12. But since the connecting link travels through a car park, it can be altered to suit the whims of the organizers. This short version of the circuit has been mentioned for a possible Formula E race, too.
The following is a list of Formula One World Championship events held at the Sochi circuit:
|V T E||Russian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Sochi Autodrom (2014-2022) • Igora Drive (2023 onwards)|
|Races||2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021|