Sochi Autodrom: The Ultimate Track Guide

Sochi Autodrom: The Ultimate Track Guide

After failed attempts for thirty years, Russia finally got to host a Formula One Grand Prix in 2014, as the sport headed to Sochi to race around the site of the Winter Olympic Games.

TRACK LENGTH 3.634 miles
MOST POLES Nico Rosberg (2)
MOST WINS Lewis Hamilton (4)



Before the First World War, two Russian Grands Prix were held, in 1913 and 1914. Taking place at a circuit in Saint Petersburg, the races were a success, with Russian racer Georgy Suvorin winning the first event, and German Willy Scholl winning the 1914 Grand Prix. Following the outbreak of the war, and the subsequent Russian Civil War, racing in the country was stopped. The Grand Prix was not resumed in the post-war years following the forming of the Soviet Union.

It wasn’t until the 1980s when talk once again began about a Russian Grand Prix. An event titled the Grand Prix of the Soviet Union was put on the Formula One calendar for 1983, with a proposed circuit in Moscow set to be the host. However, plans for the race were cancelled and instead Hungary became the first communist country to host a Grand Prix. In 2001, Vladimir Putin backed a bid for another Grand Prix, at the proposed Pulkovskoe Ring. The circuit, and Grand Prix, never came into being. In 2003, another project for a Grand Prix in Moscow began, but was later abandoned. Five years later, the Moscow Raceway was set to become home to the Russian Grand Prix. The track had been designed by Hermann Tilke, and though the Grand Prix circus never travelled there, the track was built and opened in 2012.

🇷🇺 2018 RACE RECAP

Controversy loomed in Sochi in 2018. Valtteri Bottas took pole but moved out of the way for his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who took victory to aid his championship charge.

Penalties at Red Bull and Toro Rosso led to a Q2 session in which they, and the two Renault drivers, didn’t bother setting lap times. Renault’s strategy gave them free tyre choice for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas took his second pole of the season, lapping 0.141 seconds faster than his team-mate, who made an error on his final fast lap. Sebastian Vettel made a better start than Lewis Hamilton, but Mercedes remained in the lead at the first turn. Both Toro Rosso drivers were out on the first lap with similar braking issues. Elsewhere, Max Verstappen, who started in nineteenth was putting on a show on his 21st birthday, making up fourteen place in the first eight laps. At the first round of pit-stops, Vettel pitted first and Hamilton emerged alongside Vettel after the Mercedes driver’s stop, with Vettel taking the position. Hamilton closed back in on Vettel, and Vettel aggressively blocked an overtaking attempt by Hamilton, who would eventually get past him at the next turn. On Lap 25, Bottas allowed Hamilton to pass him as Mercedes informed the Finn that Hamilton had blistering on his rear tyres and Vettel was becoming a threat. Meanwhile, with ten laps to go, Verstappen finally pitted after leading much of the race. He’d finish fifth. Hamilton took the victory, though celebrations were muted, with Bottas finishing second and Vettel third.



The Sochi Autodrom track is the fourth longest on the calendar, behind only Spa, Baku and Silverstone.

As Vitaly Petrov became Russia’s first Formula One driver in 2010, momentum was gaining to finally bring the sport to the country. In October 2010, it was announced that Sochi would host the Russian Grand Prix from 2014 onward. Sochi is a popular holiday destination as it is located on the coast of the Black Sea. It has the best of both worlds, with both the Caucasus mountains and the beach nearby.

Similar to the Moscow Raceway, the track was designed by Tilke. Work began on the circuit in July 2011, which was to be built around some of the buildings which were to play host to the Winter Olympics, held in Sochi in 2014. The International Olympic Committee was given the power to halt building of the track if it interfered with preparations for the Games, and the organisers were given leeway to push the début of the Russian Grand Prix back to 2015 if they needed to. The building of the circuit never interfered, however the track surface was not laid until after the Closing Ceremony of the Games. The track cost around $200 million to build. After a final inspection of the course by the FIA in August 2014, the circuit was deemed ready to race, and Formula One finally arrived in Russia in October 2014.

The Sochi Autodrom holds a contract to host the Russian Grand Prix until 2020.


Sochi may not have had its finest racing hour yet, but we’ve seen glimpses of how this race track could become a classic. There has been at least one talking point from each race here so far – in 2014 Nico Rosberg outbraked himself into Turn 1 and lost the race as a result, Daniil Kvyat’s first lap catastrophe unfolded in 2016, in 2017 Sochi gave us a new winner in Formula One, as Valtteri Bottas was chased to the line by Sebastian Vettel and in 2018 Bottas was controversially handed team orders to aid his team-mate to victory.


2014Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Nico RosbergMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2016Nico RosbergMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2017Sebastian VettelFerrariValtteri BottasMercedes
2018Valtteri BottasMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2019Charles LeclercFerrariLewis HamiltonMercedes