Russian Grand Prix: What happens in Sochi as they wait for F1

russian gp track, Sochi, which is 53 laps long and has 18 corners
Sochi first hosted a Formula 1 race in 2014

The Russian president ensured a reputed $50m a year is paid to make it happen, building on the 2014 Winter Olympics as part of a branding exercise for the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

And, if the past two years have set a precedent, Vladimir Putin will turn up on Sunday and sit with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone proudly overseeing his creation.

The aim? To make the host city the highest-profile and most glamorous resort in the region.

The setting is attractive enough. Sea? Check. Mountains? Check. Theme park? Check.

It's not, though, likely to go down in history as a great grand prix circuit.

The track may wind around the Olympic stadiums, but it is largely featureless - flat, some long straights, some largely right-angled corners, a technical challenge to the drivers but not much more.

One blessing of its ultra-low abrasion surface, though, was a race last year in which drivers could push their tyres hard throughout.

That led to an incident-packed event more obviously on the edge than many others these days. And if that carries on into 2016, and what is intended to be the last year of Pirelli's heat-sensitive, high-degradation tyres, it cannot be a bad thing.

Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer

What Putin's been up to in Sochi

Vladimir Putin
Russia President Vladimir Putin has a summer residence near Sochi. Here he is in the gym at the house...
Vladmir Putin
...and here he is inspecting a horse, also in Sochi.

Tat's entertainment

The good, the bad and the ugly. Sochi held the the International Tattoo Festival a few days ago...
There may still be time, and space, for Lewis to add Clint Eastwood...

Cat's entertainment

Russian driver, and Sebastian Vettel irritator, Daniil Kvyat prepared for his home race by placing a virtual cat on his head
Formula 1
Poorly salmon is available this weekend, as F1 writer Alan Baldwin pointed out

Local wildlife

Brown bear
"When's the racing start?" The brown bear is Russia's national animal

Sochi twinned with... Cheltenham

Sochi is twinned with Cheltenham, and in 2012 a Russian dance troupe performed at Cheltenham racecourse when the Olympic torch passed through

Russian Grand Prix coverage details

Did you know?

Nico Rosberg

Best corner

Only one candidate for this - the massive left-hander that is Turn Three, which is the longest turn in F1

Russia rewind

Carlos Sainz
Remember, Carlos Sainz escaped serious injury after a 200mph crash in final practice for last year's Russian GP

Sochi from the sky

Romain Grosjean
Russian GP: Wind, mountains and Putin's house

Never want to miss the latest formula 1 news? You can now add F1 and all the other sports and teams you follow to your personalised My Sport home.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC