17 March Sochi Autodrom was visited by the first Russian pilot F1 world championship on races on endurance WEC in the LMP2 class (team SMP Racing) and the bronze prize-winner of the iconic race “24 hours of Le Mans” in the LMP2 class of 2016 Vitaly Petrov.
In the framework of his visit to the Russian modern and high-speed racing track, where in his honor was named spectator Tribune T2, Vitaly shared his opinion about the track in Sochi and the upcoming season of F1. The pilot also talked about how there was Motorsport season in 2016 for him personally, and lifted the veil of secrecy over the plans this year.
T2 grandstand of Sochi Autodrom has received a name of Vitaly Petrov
Configuration of Sochi Autodrom: “I Personally Sochi Autodrom love, it is built in accordance with the highest standards and newest technologies. The track is very smooth, fairly wide, and the difficulty lies in the fact that for good results you need to use the entire width of the track. Only in this case, when you correctly and clearly go around the corner and use the path, you can get a good lap time. Also one of the features of the route – a very interesting and complex twists and turns that need to pass on the third and fourth gear. Of course, there are slower sections, but still dominated by the medium and fast turns and it is very popular with the pilots, because when there is work to do, it’s always an interesting challenge for the riders.”
Potential equalization of the chances of the teams in connection with the introduction of new technical regulations: “This is a very difficult question. The main problem is the motors. Built under the new regulations the cars become more by increasing the width of the wheels and the base. The larger the wheel, the more grip and the engine power on the exit of the turn will play a more important role. Those teams who have remained strong motors – Mercedes, Ferrari would be a win. Those with a weaker motor, like McLaren-Honda are in a less advantageous position. I want the team to Renault has made a step forward; they claimed to have built a more powerful engine, but it is still difficult to evaluate, it is necessary to wait for the first Grand Prix. I played F1 on the motors Renault, which I really liked, they were not “capricious”, and to work with them was pretty easy. I hope they really stepped up, and it will help the teams using motors Renault, to fight with the leaders. Red Bull as Toro Rosso, good downforce, and it will be a very important power of the motor”.
About how will the pilots to change their style of piloting, in connection with the modification of the rules: “From the point of view of physical preparation for the new season pilots will be little difficult because of increased congestion, and cars are 3.5 seconds faster each lap. On the other hand, new cars have become more stable, and this will make it easier to pass some of the turns, such as on the track in Barcelona, where I was recently the tests of the commands. The third turn there at full throttle it was possible to drive only one time was new tires. Because of the downforce it will be easier to go to such curves, although, of course, the physical load on the driver, acceleration, congestion will increase.”
Configuration of Sochi Autodrom, in the context of the new regulations: “Again, the increased speed and downforce will dictate the rules, especially in the corners. If you take, for example, the third long left turn, the pilots and had passed it to almost full throttle, but this year to pass him, “sinking pedal” to the floor, it will be easier from a technical point of view, but from the physical – is more difficult due to overload. In other twists – the fourth, fifth, sixth, will be a lot of work, because the speed increased.”
How will act Toro Rosso and Daniel Kvyat in 2017: “it is too early to make predictions. Wait for the first qualification for the Grand Prix of Australia, then there will be all the data, the pilots will have the same conditions, we will be able to understand what is the level of the team.”
Newcomers to F1 lance Stroll and Stoffele the Vandorn: “Vandorn to be a good pilot, he won in Japan Superformula, this championship is very high level. Have Strolla experience smaller, but everything depends on them, how quickly they adapt to technology. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it takes time. I think Vandorn will be somewhat easier than Strolla”.
About the end of the season 2016 for Vitaly Petrov: “for us, Last year, SMP Racing team has developed well. We played in the world championship on races on endurance WEC on a brand new Russian car BR01 specially built for this championship. The crew was also Russian. Of course, when the car is new, to struggle with such monsters as the Ligier or Oreca, uneasy, considering that these brands are in Motorsport for 20 years. However, in the famous race “24 hours of Le Mans” we came third, and it can not but rejoice, everyone was excited.”
On how difficult it is to win the race “24 hours Le-Mana”: “Bronze Le Mans has indeed become an important event for us, for Russia, because this history has not been to win the third place with a Russian crew and Russian car. In daily races each pilot of our crew rode my distance at least 1.5-2 hours. Physically it’s very hard, because almost 2 hours you are experiencing almost the same load as in F1, but these segments you have many. I’m probably five times sat behind the wheel, and every time you kind of walk a two-hour distance F1. Therefore, the most important thing in endurance race – it’s good to rest, recover, and back behind the wheel. In the race we have not had a single accident, all pit stops went perfectly. At five in the morning he began the fight for third place, I got behind the wheel, and I had to make the gap in a minute to defend the third position. The car drove very well and we showed an excellent result, broke away from nearest rival by one minute and thirty seconds, and that was enough to take third place.”
About the adaptation to the format “long” races: “I was already familiar with this championship. The sports prototype LMP2 – it’s almost a formula, it is built on the same principle, the management style is similar. It is, of course, wider, heavier, but the essence of control is a definable style, so I adapted quickly, and we immediately began to work with the settings”.
About plans for 2017: “the Plans we announced in the near future. While I can say that I am active in the youth program SMP Racing, supported by the younger generation, and about the participation in the competitions we will tell you very soon.”
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