Russian Grand Prix

Russian GP with McLaren Honda

2017 Russian Grand Prix

"You cannot hide behind a result like this"

Sochi Autodrom, Sunday 30 April

A hugely disappointing afternoon for the whole McLaren-Honda team after Fernando Alonso failed to start the Russian Grand Prix, and Stoffel Vandoorne took the chequered flag in 14th position.

Fernando suffered an ERS software fault on the parade lap, and, despite attempting to restart it during the lap, he was unable to make it back to the pits and was left stranded on the circuit.

Stoffel put his head down and drove a tidy, measured race, finishing 14th – getting the best from his car but unable to challenge any of the runners ahead of him.


FERNANDO  ALONSO, McLaren-Honda Driver, MCL32-03

  Started  15th     
  Finished  DNS –  ERS software failure (0 laps)    
  Fastest lap   -    
  Pitstops  -    

“It’s tough, it’s frustrating – every weekend is the same.

“My power unit didn’t have the usual power during the formation lap, so my engineer told me to change some settings on the steering wheel. Unfortunately, that didn’t work and towards the end of the lap the engine shut down. My race was over before it started.

“Not being able to take part in the race today and not being able to finish any race so far this season is extremely tough.

“But Formula 1 is my life, so hopefully we can improve the situation soon.”


STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren-Honda Driver, MCL32-01

  Started  19th (after Fernando's retirement)    
  Finished  14th    
  Fastest lap  1m39.790s on lap 47 (+2.946s, 14th)    
  Pitstops Two: laps 1 (2.73s) and 24 (3.26s + 5s penalty) [Prime/Option/Option]    

“From my side, 14th position was pretty much the best possible result today.

“I had a decent start but had to avoid a first-corner accident, which meant I got a five-second time penalty for missing the markers at Turn Two.

“However, I don’t think that did anything to change today’s result. It was a pretty normal race, we ran at our own pace, I did the maximum possible and I think 14th is a fair reflection of where we’re at.

“Fernando not being able to start shows that there’s still a lot of work to do on the reliability side – that’s two races in a row where two McLarens haven’t started. That’s a shame, but at least we got to the finish – that meant a lot of learning for the team and a lot of learning for myself.

“But, in terms of pace, we’re still not quick enough – that’s for sure.”




Russian Grand Prix McLaren Honda


Russian GP preview

Round Four at the fourth F1 Russian Grand Prix

Hear from McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as they prepare for Round Four at the Sochi Autodrom. 

Fernando Alonso

“Sochi Autodrom is an interesting circuit – a mixture of challenges, and ones which I think will be tackled quite differently this year with the new regulations for 2017. For example, Turn Three last year used to be tricky and you needed to be very precise – it’s a multi-apex left-hander which means good car balance and control are important to not get out of shape mid-corner. This year, though, it will likely be taken flat, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the feeling in the car has changed around this circuit.

“There are two long, slightly-curved straights and high-speed corners, which means this circuit will be challenging for us with the package we have, but our car is also very well-balanced, so I hope we can get the most out of the many 90-degree corners that make this circuit so unique. Although it’s technically a city circuit, it’s pretty fast overall and the track itself is wide, so it usually provides close racing and good overtaking opportunities.

“A positive result for us in Sochi will be to finish the race with both cars, first of all, as we’ve suffered a few reliability issues over the past couple of weekends. I followed the test in Bahrain and I’m pleased that we were able to secure a lot of valuable data from both the car and the power unit, and I know everyone at McLaren-Honda is working hard to put that to good use to aid our progress as quickly as possible. The season is long, but there isn’t much time between races – especially fly-aways – for development, so the laps we managed on the final day of the test were a big positive for us and hopefully will be beneficial to us over the next few races.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

“I’ve raced in Sochi before and had good results there – it’s where I clinched the GP2 championship in 2015 – so that’s definitely a plus point for me going into the weekend. We’ve not been so lucky recently on my side of the garage and I’ve missed quite a lot of valuable mileage, but I hope we can improve that situation this weekend.

“After a difficult couple of weeks, the last day of the Bahrain test was very encouraging, both for me and for the whole team. It was a boost we needed and provided us with a lot of useful information about the direction we are taking the whole package in, so we go to Sochi with a better feeling than we had on Sunday night after a disappointing race.

“As I’ve said before, on tracks like this where straight-line speed is important, we know we’ll already be slightly on the back-foot heading into the weekend. Our focus should definitely be on maximising our track time and working on reliability. If we can have a clean weekend from that point of view and no issues with the car, it will give us the best chance to find performance for the race, and we’ll give it our best shot with the package we have.”

Circuit info 

Circuit name: Sochi Autodrom
First race: 2014

Previous winners

  2016 Nico Rosberg
  2015 Lewis Hamilton 
  2014 Lewis Hamilton

History lesson

The inaugural Russian Grand Prix took place eight months after the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The 5.848km/3.634-mile street track passes alongside the Olympic Village, making it the third circuit on this year’s calendar to incorporate a former Olympic venue, along with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal ’76) and the Circuit de Catalunya (Barcelona ’92).

What makes the race special?

It was a long time in the making. Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone first tried to stage a Russian Grand Prix in 1983, but it took the 2014 Winter Olympics to act as the catalyst for the race finally taking place.

Bet you never knew...

Two non-championship Russian Grands Prix were staged in St Petersburg before the First World War, in 1913 and ’14.

Crazy moment

The 2015 Russian Grand Prix weekend got underway in bizarre circumstances, when a track sweeper spilled diesel at Turns Seven, Eight, Nine and 10 on Thursday evening. The problem wasn’t discovered until Friday morning, resulting in the first practice session being shortened by 30 minutes while the mess was tidied up.


McLaren memory

2014, when Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finished fourth and fifth. The team had performed well all weekend, with Button lining up fourth on the grid and Magnussen sixth.

Sporting legacy

Sochi has long been Russia’s largest and most popular resort, but it has also emerged as one of the country’s top sporting destinations. As well as the F1 race, it hosted the 22nd Olympic Winter Games and 11th Paralympic Winter Games; it will also be a host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Did you know?

The Sochi Autodrom is one of 10 tracks on the 2017 F1 calendar that has been designed by Hermann Tilke.

Don’t forget

There have been two Russian drivers in F1 history: Vitaly Petrov and Daniil Kvyat.



Russian Grand Prix Handbook

F1's trip to the Russian Riviera

The Russian Grand Prix was an on-off rumour for three decades before the inaugural race took place at the Sochi Autodrom in 2014. After two years at the back end of the calendar, Russia moved up to the opening quadrumvirate of flyaway races in 2016, and remains there for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The venue blurs the boundaries between street circuit and permanent racetrack, having been designed into the blueprint for Sochi’s Olympic Park, using the roads constructed for the Black Sea resort’s hosting of the 2014 Winter Games, in which Lizzy Yarnold won gold on a McLaren-designed and constructed skeleton sled.

At 5.848km (3.634 miles), the circuit is one of the longest on the current F1 calendar. A highly technical power circuit, drivers have voiced the opinion that the layout in Sochi makes following very difficult, and thus overtaking opportunities are at an absolute premium. Another characteristic to emerge from the relatively small sample of grands prix is the forgiving nature of the surface, making Russia potentially a one-stop race.

Sochi is memorable location for Stoffel Vandoorne who won his GP2 title there back in 2015. Stoffel dominated the GP2 season that year, taking seven wins in total and securing the championship with four races to spare.




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