There is little time to rest at the Gazprom Neft Cup. The tournament has only just got under way, yet time is needed not only to defend the team colours on the ice but also to see the cultural programme. For instance, two participants in the West Group, the Vityaz team from Podolsk and the Yamal team from Salekhard, had the chance to take an excursion to the Sochi Autodrom. The tracks where, very soon, on May 1, the fourth Formula 1 stage this year will be held: the Russia Grand Prix.
The young hockey players know little about car racing but they have heard about the most famous races and the name Daniil Kvyat, driver of the Russian Red Bull team. The guide told them all the details and nuances of the coming races. For example, the guys saw lots of containers gradually arriving in Sochi from China with various items and parts both for the racing cars themselves of such teams as Force India, Lotus, Mercedes, and others and for their maintenance. Nor did the hockey-players have any difficulty identifying the freight for Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull team, but were told they definitely would not be allowed to open them.
The youngsters were then taken around the so-called paddocks and garages, where the racing cars will soon be assembled and prepared for the races. They also saw the team buildings, where the Formula 1 drivers and their team managers will try to rest between races. There are a total of 16 such buildings at the Sochi Autodrom. The guide also told them about the number of racing cars: each team has two, assembled out of 80 thousand parts. The drivers will take the cars along the track of 5,834 metres and, to win, must cover 53 circuits, a distance of over 300 km, faster than all the others.
Probably most interesting was the visit to the race control room, where 65 people usually work during competitions. They monitor every turn and sector of the track on huge screens. All information about a race in progress comes here, too, and the guys from Podolsk and Salekhard saw on plasma screens where the so-called safety cars are located during races and how the traffic lights work. The participants in the hockey tournament naturally took lots of photos on their cameras and smartphones, since photos and videos were allowed. At the end of the excursion the young athletes visited the area where the Russian Grand Prix winners receive their awards. This is traditionally where Russian President Vladimir Putin presents the cup to the winner. The players of the two hockey teams also stood and took photos on the champion’s podium, where the prize-winners of the Russian stage celebrate their victory with champagne.
Daniil Pipkin, Vityaz defender:
“What I found most interesting was the race control centre. I also remember the grandstand ticket prices. They are expensive. It was also great to stand on the podium where the winning drivers receive their awards. It was a pity there were none of the racing cars around: I would love to see them and sit in one”.
Ilya Sidorov, Vityaz defender:
“This is my first time here and I am really pleased. I liked everything. How the excursion was organised. The track was worth remembering. It’s really big. On TV, it seems much smaller. I would love to go to the races, of course, but I’ll have to watch the Russian Grand Prix on TV at home”.
Dmitry Prokhorenko, Yamal forward:
“I have good impressions, though it was my second visit. It’s a pity we didn’t see the racing cars but it was a very interesting excursion. What I most liked was the chamber block, where you can see the entire track.”
Georgy Lukonin, Vityaz forward:
“It was really interesting. I especially liked the race control centre. I wish the races would happen now and I could see the racing cars themselves. I know more about them than the drivers’ names!”