‘We can be competitive in Sochi’, says Stroll

Following hot on the heels of two grands prix that could, and perhaps should, have been so much better for Lance Stroll, the Racing Point driver is confident that he can get back into the points at the Sochi Autodrom this weekend.

Stroll was running a strong seventh in Monza before being the unfortunate victim of a mistake from Sebastian Vettel, and was running just outside the points in Singapore before picking up a puncture that dropped him back down the field.

Yet Stroll, who has garnered 19 points during a season punctuated by misfortune, is confident he may not need luck to shine on his side at a circuit that he enjoys racing on.

“It’s a track that’s satisfying to drive and it suits my style,” said Stroll in his team’s race preview. “I feel it’s going to be a track where we can be competitive. It’s a very smooth surface and that allows you to be more aggressive compared to some other circuits. In many ways it’s quite similar to Singapore and Abu Dhabi – tracks with some long straights that are followed by slower and medium speed corners. The DRS has quite a big impact in Sochi, but it’s still tough to overtake.

“I like the fact that the walls are close because it makes it more of a challenge. You don’t get as much margin for error as you do on a lot of other modern tracks. We introduced a decent update in Singapore and there’s still some fine-tuning to make sure we get the most from it. Sochi will give us a chance to do that.”

Stroll’s Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez was also on the wrong end of an unfortunate retirement whilst running in the points in Singapore late on, but is equally confident that Sochi is a circuit that can play to the strengths of his driving style.

“Sochi is a track where I have good memories,” added Perez. “My podium there [in 2015] was a really special result, where we chose a different strategy compared to the others and it really worked out well. I remember I was under big pressure from behind. There was quite a bit of drama on the last lap, but we came through to take the podium.

“The Sochi track feels like a mix of a street track and permanent circuit. It’s quite a challenge and it doesn’t allow for any mistakes, especially the final sector where the walls are quite close. It can be very tricky and feels narrow. For the drivers, it’s an interesting layout with some unusual corners. I really enjoy turn three because of the high energies and its long duration. You can take it flat, but it’s the one corner on the track which really takes the life from your tyres.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.