The Perfect Lap Issue no.3 - Page 12

SAP Perfect Lap Issue 03 Russian Lesson Race Date: 2014 12th October Circuit Name: Sochi Autodrom First Grand Prix: 2014 Number of Laps: 53 Circuit Length: 5.853km Lap Record: 1:40.896 V Bottas (2014) 012 As Formula 1 reflects on the inaugural Russian GP, McLaren can be thankful of the data-processing tools and expertise at its disposal to enable the Team to achieve the best possible result at an all-new venue. “To boldly go where no man has gone before” Forgive, if you will, this . paraphrase of the famed opening-credits prelude to Star Trek, for it summarises neatly the challenge just met by all Formula 1 teams and their legion of personnel after venturing forth to a new F1 circuit in a country that had never before hosted a grand prix. Yes, F1 just turned its first wheel at Russia’s all-new Sochi Autodrom, discovering a fast, atypical track that once upon a time might have baffled drivers and engineers in pursuit of the perfect set-up. A long, arcing 180-degree left-hander that asks drivers to accelerate through the gears before braking while turning? That’s tricky Turn Four and back in the day it would have demanded hours of race-weekend practice time to perfect the best compromise between ride heights, spring/damper rates, tyre compounds and aero settings, among myriad other performance-influencing parameters. But that was then. In 2014, every Sochibound team – even the humblest – was able to rely on copious intelligence gleaned from advance-party visits and illicit ‘chats with mates’ who’d already scouted the latest new grand prix destination. The grandee teams, such as McLaren, meanwhile, were able to do much, much, better that that.