Weather: sunny and dry, 19-22°C air, 18-33°C track
Today it was the first time since Jules Bianchi’s serious accident last weekend in Suzuka, that the engines have been started again. On the new circuit built in the Olympic park in Sochi, the Formula One teams prepared for the Russian Grand Prix, which is a new round on the Formula One calendar. Alongside regular driver Adrian Sutil, Sauber F1 test driver Sergey Sirotkin was taking part for the first time in the morning practice session during a Grand Prix weekend. The 18-year-old Russian drove without making any mistakes and was able to improve consistently. In the afternoon, Esteban Gutiérrez was back in the cockpit of the C33 and he focused on learning the new track as quickly as possible. With stickers on the cars and helmets, the teams were remembering the seriously injured Jules Bianchi. Our thoughts are with him and his family.
Esteban Gutiérrez (car number 21):
Sauber C33-Ferrari (Chassis 01/Ferrari)
2nd practice: 18th / 1:43.055 min (33 laps)
“After missing the first practice session, we had a very productive afternoon. It was important to catch up with the programme in FP2. I think we are surprised with the track’s performance, as the tyres are working well while the grip level was quite high. We extracted a lot more than we expected today, and we are going to make sure that happens tomorrow as well. Regarding the new track, I really like it, and I am enjoying driving there. Besides that, I want to say that our thoughts and prayers are still with Jules, and his family at this difficult time. The most important thing for Jules is to let him feel our strength, and send him our positive energy. I am going to help in any way I can, and at the same time show my support for Jules and the family. Let’s keep praying for him.”
Adrian Sutil (car number 99):
Sauber C33-Ferrari (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
1st practice: 15th / 1:44.625 min (26 laps) / 2nd practice: 15th / 1:42.233 min (31 laps)
“It was interesting to drive on a new circuit, and it was a lot of fun as the track has some nice corners. In general, the balance of the car is not yet good enough, but we were able to go through our programme without any issues. We will try to improve some details for tomorrow, however, I do not think we can make a huge step forward. Although we will enhance our package as well as we can to get the maximum out of it. Besides that, I can surely find some extra tenths on this new circuit."
Sergey Sirotkin (car number 37):
Sauber C33-Ferrari (Chassis 01/Ferrari)
1st practice: 17th / 1:45.032 min (22 laps)
“It was a positive session. I like the track, and it was nice driving the C33. I took it easy at the beginning in order to build up confidence, as I have not driven the car for about half a year, but today I was able to quickly get the feeling for it. During my last fast lap at the end of the session, I was a bit unlucky with the traffic, and the tyres did not have the optimal temperature. The conditions were not ideal, which cost me some time during my last fast lap. I see a lot of potential to improve, as I took it easy, and I was not pushing to the absolute limit. The track is quite nice, but also tricky. Turn 1 seems to be an easy corner which can be taken flat out. However, I was a bit surprised on my first lap when I went through Turn 1, as it was quite bumpy in one place. Neverthelesse, after a few laps you get used to the track’s characteristics.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“All in all it was a good day as we were able to complete our programme. The morning was all about learning about this new track from both the drivers’ and engineers’ sides. We got a first impression how the tyres would cope with the tarmac. The lap times were improving pretty quickly, something we had to consider when working on the set-up. In one of the cars we had Sergey, who did a good job, did not make any mistakes and built up the speed progressively. This cost a bit of track time for Esteban, so we decided to adapt his programme in the afternoon and give him some more time to work on the set-up. Adrian did the regular tyre evaluation programme.”