“It’s an interesting track. It has a lot of long straights but despite that fact, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso have actually done pretty well on that track in the past.
“It’s a special track and it’s still very new. It’s also in the middle of the Olympic Park and that gives a special atmosphere to it. The corners are mostly 90 degrees, which you normally never experience. It’s quite a flat track and not a lot of elevation changes and some difficult braking zones. It’s always challenging to come from high speed into a low-speed corner and achieve the best out of it in braking. I’m definitely looking forward to go back there and have a good race.
“Last year I visited the city centre in Sochi which was pretty interesting and I found a really nice restaurant that I will definitely go back to this year. I’ll keep the name secret for now though.”
“Now that we’ve been to the track a few times I think the tarmac will be better. It’s a bit like Austin in the first few years, when it took a while to bed in. But I expect this year for the track to be grippy and with these cars it should be quite fast. I would say it’s going to be more enjoyable than it has been so I’m looking forward to that. It’s also a pretty busy track. There is not much room to rest. Yeah there is a long straight but other than that there is quite a bit going on. It keeps you thinking.
“Some parts of the track remind me a bit of India. Kind of flat and you can take the kerbs quite easily. There are also a lot of third- and fourth-gear corners. The layout has definitely grown on me since we started racing there.
“We’re also going there a bit later this year so there is a chance of it being a bit warmer than in previous years. It’s a pretty cool place. It’s near the ocean and our hotel is right next to it. I’ve never gone into the water though because it’s too cold for me.”
“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Russia is Sebastian… As in Sebastian Vettel. I like to torpedo Sebastian, it's my hobby! [Small pause] Okay, c'mon, you all know I'm joking! Let's get serious now… Maybe the first word that comes to mind should be ‘braking’ into Turn 1!
“This is always a special weekend for me as it's my home race. I've had very good qualifyings there but I've never actually been able to put the perfect race together in Russia, so I'd like to achieve it this year. It's so cool to race here, I always feel the strong support of the Russian fans and I want to make the most out of this backing and thank everyone with a strong performance!
“Since the first Russian GP back in 2014, Formula 1 in Russia has definitely grown a lot. To have our own race was a big step for the country and more and more fans attend every year, so you can see that the interest in the sport is much bigger!
“Russia is a fantastic country for winter sports and hosting the Winter Olympics was a big event. I like to watch the biathlon, skiing… There are many cool winter sports! I'm not surprised Sochi was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, the mountains here in Sochi are fantastic!
“In 2015 I qualified in P5, which was my best qualifying result with Toro Rosso. It was quite a nice moment and I have very good memories from that day. The race wasn't great, but then the following year the situation was the opposite, with not the strongest of qualis but with a decent race. This time I'm looking to be strong on both Saturday and Sunday!”
“I always get asked about my 2015 crash when we get to Russia, but I have to say that what I was most impressed with that weekend was the support of the fans and the whole Paddock. I remember posting a photo from the hospital to say that I was okay and I received so many good wishes, it was amazing to see how F1 comes together when these things happen. We're a big family and people really care about each other.
“I think Russia owes me one, particularly after that 2015 race where we did a massive comeback, starting from the very back and climbing up to P6 before having to retire… And last year I was just unlucky to get a piece of wing stuck in my radiator! So yes, points are on my list of objectives this time in Russia!
“I enjoy driving around where the Winter Olympics took place back in 2014. I have to say that I like the winter Olympics, particularly the skiing competitions. I always try to follow as much as I can even if I don't have much time. I also like to ski myself and I usually try and go at least once a year with my friends.
“I've learned a few Russian words thanks to my teammate, Daniil. I think its best that I don't tell you which words he's taught me… Well, the only one I will share with you I'm sure you all know: matryoshka!
“The most special thing about the track is Turn 3, a very long corner which is tough for the neck and enjoyable to drive.”
More to follow.