Blue skies and sunny temperatures greeted the grid as the drivers assembled on the start/finish line for a moment of silence in honour of Jules Bianchi. Then they were instructed to stay put as the crushing chorus of the Russian anthem reverberated through the concrete canyons of the Sochi Olympic Village.
The race was eagerly anticipated and P2 Rosberg launched into the long run to turn one, to claim the apex for himself ahead of Hamilton. Unfortunately for Nico, he managed this only by running to deep, locked his brakes in plumes of smoke and slid across the track into the car park-esque run off area.
The team were quickly on the radio telling Rosberg to hand the place back to pole sitter Hamilton, but worse was in store for Nico as he reported massive vibrations from the damaged rubber. He stopped at the end of lap one and bolted on the harder medium tyre which proved to be ‘magic’ as he carved his way through the field back to P2 by the finish.
Rosberg had repeatedly revealed following FP2 how “amazed” he was at the lack of tyre degradation in Sochi. “It seems that there’s no tyre degradation here, which we need for overtaking.”
“…there’s no degradation, the tyres just stay the same. We need to review all that. Definitely it’s all a bit unusual here so we need to be a bit creative.”
“…the whole track was very unique today, not just the layout but the way the tyres worked and everything – very unusual. That makes it very interesting from an engineering perspective because it’s unlike any other track we’ve seen this year”.
Pirelli have responded to the criticism that they were too conservative with their soft/medium tyre selection for the inaugural Russian GP and this year we will see the super soft/soft combination being run.
Pirelli state, “The asphalt has not changed significantly since its debut last year, and looking at the data from 2014, a softer step is possible,”
This combination of tyres will also be run at the Singapore GP, as was last year.
The Japanese GP will also see Pirelli select the same compounds as in 2014 – the medium and the hard.
Meanwhile Pirelli are requesting a tyre test following the Singapore GP. The test is proposed to take place in Sepang, where the temperatures are high and the asphalt is abrasive.
It appears F1’s tyre manufacturer was offered a Friday practice instead, but Paul Hembery argues this is not sufficient to properly test the nine different prototype specifications Pirelli have designed.
Following the row over tyres in Spa, Paul Hembery reveals, “We want to change the hard and the supersoft compounds.”
For the test to be approved, this requires either unanimous agreement amongst the teams or for the FIA to mandate such a test on safety grounds.