M a mini Formula 1 season, consisting of three grands prix, this time starts in Russia. A new place in my Formula 1 travel conglomeration, which is already characterized by involuntary overnight stays in South Korean hourly hotels and the paralysis of travel due to volcanic eruptions. I am preparing for an adventure again this time.
Schmidt luggage does not arrive
Our route takes us via Istanbul to Sochi, a rather manageable airport is obviously only favored by Formula 1 people and a few locals. The first highlight awaits us promptly: Colleague Schmidt's luggage has been spilled. One could think that with his Senator status he would be provided with a designer cloakroom until the suitcase reappears.
But far from it: The barren airport building in Sochi is still traditionally worked. There is neither a computer with which the location of the suitcase could be tracked nor any other electronic aids. Instead: a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen. For my always briskly working and somewhat impatient colleague, it is like sending him to a four-hour yoga seminar. There is no trace of 'Ohhhhhm' here. We are consoled by the fact that he is notified when the suitcase arrives in Sochi.
There is no trace of that holiday feeling on the first visit to the route. I feel more like I'm in a science fiction movie. At the entrance to the track, security checks with people scanners greet us every morning, just like at the airport, and the gray-white-black design of the buildings in the paddock also looks like something out of an action strip of the future. The colorfully staged pseudo-Disneyland in the background of the route seems almost picturesque.
In the evening we immerse ourselves in the local culture. In “La Luna”, a colorfully lit restaurant where solo entertainers create that 80s disco feeling and large Russian families enjoy their cozy get-together, we make friends with Russian food.
Red Bull tests Aeroscreen
The sight of the new Aeroscreen cockpit protection, which Red Bull mounted on Daniel Ricciardo's car for a few laps on Friday for free practice, takes a little getting used to. The construction reminds me of the windshield of a speed boat, others find it just as ugly as they doHalo variant. It goes without saying that everyone in the paddock gives their mustard.
Lewis Hamilton is worried about completely different things than looks this weekend. While it was still going according to plan in training, he cannot contest the third part of qualifying because, like in China, the MGU-H is on strike. Rosberg, on the other hand, is on pole. The media round in the Mercedes pavilion turns into a soap opera. The journalists initially experience an overjoyed Rosberg, a few minutes later an absent and dejected Hamilton who feels helpless.
However, his team spares no expense or effort to provide him with the best conditions for the race. It is decided to reinstall the engine from China. During the night from Saturday to Sunday, you charter a machine that flies in the new fuel system that has now been introduced - otherwise Hamilton would have had to start out of the pits. The trip costs $ 43,000. And even his colleague Schmidt is happy: His lost suitcase finally arrives at the hotel.
Taxi ride at turtle speed
On Saturday evening, another visit to the “ La Luna ”, which incidentally also found favor with drivers like Jenson Button. On the way back we experience the best taxi ride of our life. The good man doesn't understand a word of English, tells us something in Russian all the time and sits hunched behind the wheel like a ninja turtle.
The pace is accordingly: we move towards the hotel at walking pace. So slowly that it has to start again before each speed bump in order to even roll over it. Now imagine that a 90s dance hit mix is rumbling out of the cassette deck. Yes, we had fun.
Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat in particular were less cheerful in the race on Sunday. With a hara-kiri braking action, the Russian first drives the Ferrari driver into the rear and shortly afterwards maneuvers him into the wall. For Kvyat there is a 10-second penalty at the home Grand Prix.
What he shouldn't know at this point: From then on he was also relieved of his Red Bull cockpit from Max Verstappen and had to go back to school with junior team Toro Rosso. Nico Rosberg doesn't notice any of the excitement: He clinches his fourth win of the season and extends his World Championship lead to 43 points.
In the gallery you can find some personal impressions of auto motor und sport reporter from the events behind the scenes.