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Russia preview quotes - Marussia, Toro Rosso, Williams & more

07 Oct 2015

After the history of Suzuka, the paddock moves on to the spectacular modernity of Sochi Autodrom, which this year makes its second appearance on an F1 calendar. Those involved look ahead to the 2015 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix…


Will Stevens

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge of Sochi. I was here last year in my role as Reserve Driver, so I walked the track and observed the task of getting to grips with it from afar. It’s quite useful having two different drivers as a benchmark this past few races, and of course it is Roberto back in the other seat for this race, rather than Alex. This is a really technical track and I can’t wait to get my first experience of it on Friday.”

Roberto Merhi

“I can’t wait to be back in the car in Sochi this weekend. It’s the first time I have raced here, but last year I took part in the FP1 session, so I have some understanding of the circuit characteristics and this will be helpful for me after a couple of races out of the car. I’ve continued to work very closely with the team during track sessions and engineering meetings, so I have a very good appreciation of the work we have completed and I’m eager to get stuck into the programme and to make the most of my two races, in Sochi and Abu Dhabi.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“The debut race in Sochi last year was something of a voyage into the unknown for all of the teams. For us, it was an even greater challenge, given our difficult circumstances. For me personally, this will be my first visit, so, in many ways, we approach the race afresh this weekend. The lap here is very long, second only to Spa and Silverstone, and it is a very technical layout with plenty of hard braking zones leading into slow corners. It will be good to have Roberto back in the car here for the first of his two remaining races with us, and I’m sure Will is going to be pushing hard to reverse the disappointments of the last couple of races.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen

"Sochi looks like an interesting track. It should suit our car well so hopefully we can have another strong weekend. I've never raced there, but we've done some good work on the sim so I'm familiar with the track. I look forward to driving there in real life, it seems like a circuit where there's room for overtaking and hopefully this time I won't have to start from the back again! I raced in Moscow last year in Formula 3 and ended up on the podium twice that weekend, so I have good memories - but we need to practice our Russian a bit more before we arrive!"

Carlos Sainz

"I also like the idea of racing around the Olympic Park, it's something unusual. I always follow the Olympics! I also raced there last year during my Formula Renault 3.5 season. It should be a good weekend for us and hopefully we can continue to fight for points. We need to catch Lotus and overtake them in the championship!"


Valtteri Bottas

“We had a good result last year in Russia so we’re expecting another strong weekend and a good collection of points. We all know the track now and it has a really good flow, with the long straights a good fit for our car. The fans were passionate last year so we look forward to putting on another good show for them. Pace wise we were close to Mercedes in Japan and I think we can be close again in Sochi, just like we were in 2014.”

Felipe Massa

“Russia is a very nice track with a few long straights which makes it interesting for overtaking. The circuit has almost everything, starting with a straight and then moving into high-speed corners and then very slow corners in the middle sector. This makes setting up the car really important and the importance of downforce evident. I hope to make amends for qualifying last year and I’m confident we can have a competitive race.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“The objectives for the championship are fairly clear. We are looking to reduce the gap to the teams in front and extend the gap to the teams behind and we hope to further realise those goals in Russia. The facilities in Sochi are excellent considering it’s a new track and we are hoping for another good race, with plenty of overtaking like last year. The track has some quick straights and low speed corners, so the compromise on downforce has to be correct. Sochi is a circuit that suits our car with high power and drag sensitivities. We managed to have a good weekend last year from a performance point of view and we will be looking to build on this.”


Fernando Alonso

"It's exciting to go back to Sochi, one of the newest racetracks we go to, which means there's always a lot of anticipation. Last year's grand prix was a fantastic event and it was good to bring Formula 1 to a completely new territory and race in front of a new group of excited fans.

"Suzuka was clearly a challenging race for us, but the support of the fans was incredible and we were still able to take some positives from it. We're working hard on reliability and it was encouraging that we didn't have any issues with the car all weekend.

"Sochi is a great track and the street circuit layout and tight, precise corners make it really enjoyable to drive. The two straights are long and high-speed which means it won't be easy for us, but our car is very well balanced, so I hope we can have some good battles and make some good progress on track this weekend."

Jenson Button

"Suzuka was a challenging race for us because of the nature of the track, but racing in Japan in front of Honda's home crowd was an incredible experience and it really lifted everyone's spirits.

"I'm really pleased that my plans for next year have been confirmed – I'm fully committed to this team and have strong faith in the incredibly hard work that's going on behind the scenes in Woking and Sakura. We'll keep our heads down and keep pushing hard to improve our car at every race weekend.

"In Sochi, I had one of my best results of the year last season, and really enjoyed driving on a new track. The surface has a lot of grip, so I'm looking forward to seeing how our tyres perform there. We'll work closely with our guys on both sides of the garage to get the most out of every session and iron out some of the issues we had in Suzuka."

Eric Boullier, racing director, McLaren-Honda

"After the challenges and emotion of Suzuka, it's been a very important week for the McLaren-Honda team. We've announced a new partner for the 2016 season and beyond, Chandon, and confirmed that Jenson will be continuing to race with us next year. Both of these announcements are incredibly motivating for the whole team, and we go to Sochi with renewed enthusiasm and excitement.

"Last year's Russian Grand Prix was an unquestionable success, and the organisers worked very hard to put on a well-organised event in front of packed grandstands of passionate fans. We had a strong weekend there last year, and, while we know the limitations of our package, we are continuing to work tirelessly on our reliability and performance to achieve the best result we can.

"There's still a long way to go until the end of the season, and every weekend counts as an opportunity to learn, develop and apply our knowledge and experience to next year's car. Sochi will be no different."

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport

"Sochi will be a completely new track for Honda so it will surely be an exciting challenge as we are starting from scratch regarding data settings.

"It is a very unique and modern track, where cars can race side by side for the first half of the lap, then close in with tricky 90-degree slow- to mid-speed corners and intense straights for the latter half. This type of track layout is likely to be demanding on our power units, but as usual the team will work hard to get the best out of the overall package. It will be interesting to see what we can learn from this weekend."


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

"We're very pleased to be coming back to Russia for the second Russian Grand Prix: a market that is crucial not only to ourselves but also every automotive manufacturer. There were a number of question marks that we faced coming to the Sochi circuit for the first time last year - as is inevitably the case with any new circuit - but we have since been able to collect extra data that means we have more information for 2015. As a result, we have gone a step softer with the tyre nomination this year to help us get back into the two to three pit stop window, which is what we desire for every race. However, both ourselves and all the teams are learning more about this circuit all the time, despite the advancement of simulation technology. The track has quite a wide variety of different corners, so it makes for a good all-round test for the tyres, with the drivers able to benefit from the extra speed of the supersoft this year."


Lewis Hamilton

"Suzuka was a really special weekend for me and another fantastic result for the team. Everyone is doing such an incredible job once again this season and every bit of this success is well deserved. The car was unbelievable to drive in Japan, so hopefully it'll be more of the same at the remaining races - starting in Sochi. Last year was the first experience I'd had of Russia in my racing career and we had a great race there. The circuit is really well put together - quite long, with some interesting corners and opportunities to overtake. Hopefully now fans have seen what a great facility they have there and how beautiful Sochi is, we'll see plenty more people in the stands this year too. It was great to win the first race for Formula One in Russia and a fantastic moment for the team to take the title there last time out. Fingers crossed we can add to those great memories again this weekend - I'll be pushing as hard as I can to make that happen."

Nico Rosberg

"Once I got back from Japan, I was able to focus on the positive elements from my weekend in Suzuka: pole position, the on-track pass on Bottas and then having the speed to undercut Vettel's Ferrari at the second pit-stop. I'm not backing down in my fight for the championship and gaining those positions back fair and square showed that. We have five races to go and, although the championship gap to Lewis is quite big, in my mind it's definitely not over yet. The way the whole team has performed this year - from the factories to the garage - has been just incredible and I have the car I need to get back to the top step. I really enjoyed our first trip to Russia last year and it was an awesome weekend for the team - one that I will always remember after seeing all the hard work they've put in during my time here. So, I'm aiming to put all those tools they've given me to good use and bring home a top result."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Japan was an important weekend for the team. We had to hit back strongly after Singapore and that objective was achieved on all fronts - in the cockpit and in the garage. While we take satisfaction from these successes, however, we do not lose sight of our failures. There are still many obstacles left to overcome this season and we must continue to tackle them with full force. We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first Constructors' title for Mercedes-Benz with a 1-2 finish. A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target - but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"Suzuka was a very pleasing weekend after the disappointment of Singapore. The team and drivers did a great job to bring home a top result and we now head to Sochi aiming to repeat that feat. This was a tricky weekend last season, with a new circuit to learn and fresh tarmac which produced slightly unusual behaviour from the tyres. This year we have moved one step softer on the compounds to bring the soft and supersoft into play - perhaps influenced by Nico running almost the entire race last year on a single set of tyres. One year on, the track surface will have weathered differently so we must ensure we have all eventualities covered. The 2014 Russian Grand Prix - the first for a century, of course, and the inaugural running of the event during the Formula One era - was very well organised and saw a good crowd for what is a growing market in the sport. We look forward to seeing our Russian fans out in force again and hope to put on a good show."

Force India

Sergio Perez

"I scored a point in Sochi last year and I'm looking forward to racing there again. They did a really nice job with the track and there are some interesting corners, especially the long left-hand turn three - in qualifying last year we were taking it flat. In some ways the Sochi track reminds me of Singapore and Abu Dhabi. That's because there are lots of 90 degree corners and acceleration zones, which put high energy through the rear tyres. There are some quick parts of the lap too. I remember last year that turn 12 was quite difficult because you are pulling high g-forces and braking for turn 13 at the same time.

"We saw last year that overtaking wasn't easy and it was a one-stop race for most cars. This year the tyres are a step softer so perhaps that will mix up the strategy options a bit more."

Nico Hulkenberg

"The result in Suzuka was just what I needed after a few unlucky weekends since the summer break. We had good pace, we did our homework and we achieved all we could from the race. It was very satisfying to see how competitive we were and that's given me a confidence boost for the races to come.

"I had my first experience of Russia last year and enjoyed it. The unusual venue inside the Olympic Park is pretty cool and the track itself has a nice flow. The lap is quite long, with many similar corners, and that adds to the difficulty of putting together a perfect lap. The final sector is quite technical and is a big challenge for the drivers."

Vijay Mallya, team principal

"I'm feeling optimistic as we approach the final couple of months of the season. In Singapore and Japan we continued to show competitive pace and, despite missing the chance to score with both cars, we remain in a solid fifth place in the championship.

"Russia will give us another chance to unleash more potential from the B-spec car. Even at this late stage of the season we continue to bring new parts to the car thanks to all the hard work back at the factory. "There's every reason to believe we can be competitive in Sochi and we expect to be up there fighting for good points."


Marcus Ericsson

"Last season the Russian Grand Prix was my last race both with Caterham and for the year. Qualifying wasn't so bad, and then I also had a decent race. So I have good memories of this track. Hopefully the second Russian race will be a positive weekend for me with the Sauber C34-Ferrari. But we have to work hard to optimise our updates that we have brought to Singapore, and try to make them work even better. And, of course, our aim is to score points again."

Felipe Nasr

"The track in Sochi is again another circuit on which I will drive my first laps in a Formula One car. But I know it from last year's GP2 races. I have quite good memories from this weekend after finishing one of the races on the podium. The circuit itself is a bit of a mix between a permanent and a street track. It is impressive that it has been built in the centre of the Olympic Park, which makes it an interesting environment. The circuit itself consists mainly of low and medium-speed corners. Therefore, braking stability as well as traction is very important. During the weekend we will continue to work on evaluating our aero package."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering

"The circuit in Sochi, which was new to the calendar one year ago, is regarded in our team as one of the kindest on the tyres due to its special surface, the absence of very high speed corners and the cool ambient temperatures. On this basis, Pirelli has chosen the soft and supersoft compounds, as opposed to the medium and soft that were used one year ago: it will be interesting to reassess what that means for the car's set-up and race strategy. The track itself runs through the park used for the 2014 Winter Olympics and is, to a large extent, surrounded by walls, yet it can't really be considered a typical street circuit. The straight-line performance, traction and braking dominates the first and the last sectors, whereas the middle one is more technical and requires the drivers to find their rhythm through the flow of the corners."

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat

“I would describe it as a classic modern-style track. But what’s really important is that there is quite a lot of room for overtaking, which usually makes for good racing. It does have some quite interesting, quite unusual sections. There are some challenging braking areas, in Turn 13 for example. Also Turn 4 is quite tough. I would characterise it as a very technical circuit. It probably doesn’t really have a standout, balls-out corner, it really does make you think a lot and it takes some time to work out the best way round it. Having said that, it’s my home race and I enjoy it a lot. The atmosphere last year was fantastic, there were so many fans giving me support. It really feels awesome to be there.

“[Last year] qualifying was great but the race was just... how can I say this… well, it was cr*p. We had problems with fuel consumption during the race and it was just a really disappointing day. I’m hoping we will be able to give the fans there something more to cheer about this year.

"Sometimes you do get some strong attention but that’s part of the game and what you have to take from it is that the attention comes from the fact that perhaps you have been doing something good, which is a positive. You have to understand that the fans are coming out to support you and that is something quite special - I’m happy to have the attention, it gives you a bit of a lift.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“The organisers have done a really good job with the facilities - everything is top notch! They’ve put in really good grandstands around the stadium section for fans, and that generates a good atmosphere. But in the car it’s 90-degree corner - straight - 90-degree corner - straight, so in terms of driver satisfaction it’s a little flat. [Sochi itself is] surprising! Really liked the beach. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?”


Romain Grosjean

“It would be fantastic to shake up the order again and get a really strong result, and that’s honestly what we’re always trying to do. It’s a pretty decent circuit and it will be interesting to see how it’s matured. Certainly the track surface will have changed and it will have settled somewhat. We struggled massively for grip last year, but we’ve got a softer tyre allocation from Pirelli, the performance of which we should be better equipped to maximise. It will be a good exercise for us to see if we can give a better performance than our first Russian Grand Prix.

“For me it was special to race at the site of an Olympic Games. I’m a huge fan of the Olympics and especially the Winter Olympics, because my grandfather competed in skiing events at the 1948 and 1952 events. The facility itself was fantastic and the track really well engineered. The entire site had its own unique flavour. It’s always great to see how an event matures and I know we have many Russian fans. It would be superb to see as many as possible there supporting us.

“It’s a pretty cool track actually with a useful number of straights and some big braking. You’ve got turn three which is just about flat out which is good fun. The corners flow well together with the final section a bit more tight and twisty. Last year was hard to get the tyres working, this year the Pirelli allocation is softer. Looking outside of the driver requirements, the facilities are really nice and the paddock is a friendly size so it’s a good one to work in.

Pastor Maldonado

“[Last year] it was a great and amazing event, really well organised and with a good attendance. It was a special experience to arrive at a new country for Formula One - and a new country for me - then see strong immediate support like we did. I’m looking forward to returning and seeing how they built upon their strong first event.

There are very many corners, with a couple of sections of stop and go. It’s quite a long lap and a reasonably technical one too. If you make a small mistake in one corner, you are punished for the rest of the lap. If you’re off line for one corner, it might not be until one of the straights that you can recover. Off-line is very slippery too so you’re doubly punished! Every single part of this track is important! In terms of enjoyment, I like the first sector the most, but it’s a good track overall.

“It will be much easier this year. Last year was all about discovery and learning; this year we should be several steps forward so be able to unlock more pace quicker.”

Federico Gastaldi, deputy team principal

“Sochi was a brand new event in 2014 and certainly exciting for everyone attending. F1 is a global spectacle and it shows the strength of the sport that we race in Russia. We have a very good Russian Formula One driver in the sport with Daniil Kvyat and at Enstone we had the first ever Russian F1 driver - our friend Vitaly Petrov - so we understand the market and enjoy the support we get from Russia.”

Nick Chester, technical director

“We know that the surface is very smooth and last year we struggled generating temperature with the tyres, partly through the smooth surface and partly through what was a conservative tyre allocation. Pirelli’s softer allocation for this year along with the more weathered track surface and our better knowledge of the circuit should mean we fare far better in this regard. In terms of its needs, we know that it’s a track that is quite power and traction-sensitive. The layout presents a lot of slow speed corners and long straights. Braking down into Turn thirteen is very severe and you come out of the kink before you brake so it is a difficult corner to get right. Overall, the whole track is quite technical, so it certainly a challenging one for the drivers.

“The weather can be quite unusual in Sochi as you have the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. There’s potential for a reasonable mix of weather in the week ahead so we’ll be kept on our toes.”

More to follow.