The Formula One fraternity has been keeping Jules Bianchi in their thoughts as he remains critical but stable in a Japanese hospital after his crash at Suzuka on Saturday night.
But they won’t have much more time to fully dwell on him, as F1 prepares for its inaugural Russian Grand Prix this weekend at Sochi Olympic Park.
After having to pack up quickly while absorbing the news regarding Bianchi – and while Typhoon Phanfone bore down upon Japan – teams and media are now migrating to the site of this year’s Winter Games to get an early start on preparations.
Meanwhile, several drivers have given their opening thoughts on the new Sochi Autodrom circuit and racing in Russia.
Last weekend’s third-place finisher, Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, regards the circuit as a more fluid version of the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore with some sectors reminding him of Abu Dhabi and Korea in particular.
As with any new tracks, mistakes will likely be made as drivers get used to the course and figure out how far they can push it. But Vettel is also worried about Sochi’s surface.
“It will be quite slippery at the beginning of the weekend and I’m expecting a few driving errors, not only because the track is new for everyone, but also because the surface is still so green,” he said. “So it will be a while until we feel comfortable on the track.”
Meanwhile, Force India enters Sochi looking to extend their slim one-point lead over McLaren for fifth in the Constructor’s Championship. Both Force India men, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, have said that it will probably take 10 laps on the track before they can get a proper idea of things.
“Nobody knows the track so it will be the same situation for all of us,” said Perez. “We all start from zero.”
Certainly, it should be an intriguing affair by the Black Sea.