September 25th, 2019

#SocGP: Showdown by the sea

2019 FIA Formula One VTB Russian Grand Prix – Preview

The relentless dynamics of back-to-back race weekends mean our Singapore laundry has barely had the time to dry before we don team kit again and head out for another race, this time on the shores of the Black Sea in Sochi, Russia.

Racing again a mere seven days after the previous event has its implications, not just on the logistics of getting the whole kit and caboodle required to run an F1 team half a world away, but also on the psyche of the drivers. If you come from a point-scoring, race-leading Sunday like Antonio, you have an immediate chance to ride the momentum and keep on your scoring ways; if you aim to bounce back from a less-than-ideal weekend like Kimi, it’s a chance at redemption within a week. In either case, it’s a guarantee of motivation.

The circuit snaking around the Sochi Olympic Park, however, is not the only place that will see crucial action this weekend: Saturday and Sunday will also be a crucial junction in the junior formulas supporting the pinnacle of motorsport. This is all the more true for the FIA F4 Sauber Junior Team, whose season culminates at the Sachsenring with a mouth-watering season finale.

All the four drivers in the team are in with a shot at the title – Théo Pourchaire leading the championship with 197 points, Arthur Leclerc following in P3 with 169 ahead of Roman Staněk, fourth on 152, and Alessandro Ghiretti, P6 with 126. It will be an exciting showdown for our Junior drivers – one we will watch closely, with the hope for a big celebration later in the weekend…

Back in Sochi, this weekend will also see the Sauber Junior Team debut for Matevos Isaakyan. The Russian joins our F2 team for his home race, replacing the injured Juan Manuel Correa, who remains under the care of doctors in the UK. This weekend, as always, we will be racing with JM in our thoughts, wishing the likeable American a quick recovery. Whatever the series, we’ll be going racing this weekend to make him proud.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
“We have scored points in the last few races, often in difficult circumstances, and this is a positive, but we could have and should have scored more. Our car is improving and we have shown we can fight at the front of the midfield and our aim is to continue to do so at every round this season. Sochi gives us an occasion to bring back two cars in the points and continue our chase in the championship, but we will need a good weekend in which every team member delivers. I am confident we can be competitive and I am looking forward to the weekend.”

Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
“Singapore was another weekend where we showed some promise but things didn’t go our way in the race, so it was obviously a disappointment. The plan for Sochi is not different from what we aimed for so far: we need a clean weekend where we can show how good our car is and keep out of trouble. I haven’t been very lucky in Russia in previous years but hopefully we can turn the record around this time.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
“The last few races have given me a lot of confidence and I want to keep building on these results. I feel more at ease with the car and racing in the field and I think the points I have scored show I am on the rise. Singapore was a good race – not really for being in the lead, but for the way I fought throughout the evening – and I am confident we can have another good weekend in Sochi. It’s not a track I know really well – I have only done a session on Friday last year – but it was the same in Singapore and I adapted quickly there.”