F1 journalist and ludicrous tit TRENTHAM SLEAVES looks ahead to Sunday’s race
Some places need only to be visted once or twice before they feel like home, and Sochi is certainly one of those. There is a charm to the place, and to its circuit, that simply cannot be conveyed in print or on television and must be experienced first hand by actually being there, which of course I am.
I was sampling the delights of downtown Sochi on Wednesday night, dining alone at a wonderful little Italian place whose name is, I’m sure you’ll understand, best kept amongst those of us in the know within F1. Ordering is best performed in the local tongue but luckily I speak a little Russian and as I feasted on raw pork, some pencils and a bowl of crushed cheese, I spotted my old mate Daniil Kvyat walking by. I leapt from my table to say ‘hi’ but he pretended not to hear me and walked briskly away. Always such a jester!
Later, as I strolled through the glorious environs of the town and watched the police beating up some gays, I spotted a certain 1990s British world champion at a distance and called out to him. He called back, as he often does, ‘Not within 50 metres of me! Read the bloody court order!’ and then got into a cab. What a splendid sense of humour he has!
Yesterday, I was taken out by my dear old mate Sergei Osmolov, a local businessman, and politician who I met for the first time last year and who gave me an fascinating tour of the area in his Rolls-Royce. I have been in a Rolls-Royce before, as I’m sure you haven’t, yet I never fail to be impressed by the majestic silence and imperious power with which these whispering beasts conduct themselves down the road. It was almost as memorable as Mr Osmolov’s obvious love for his city and the passionate way he spoke about the ‘vital importance’ of F1 and the ‘financial benefits’ of the sport to Russia as well as the ‘bodily harm’ that can happen to a person in this region if certain ‘requests are not met’.
In my opinion, Sochi is one of the all-time great Formula 1 tracks, dwarfing Silverstone or Monza for sheer spectacle and a brilliant atmosphere. It has, in many ways, become the definitive track for this sport and I certainly hope we will be coming here for the full extent of the existing seven year deal and beyond that with a new deal which will be conducted under more favourable terms since this is unquestionably the best race track in the world!
As to who will take the infamous black and white flag on Sunday, I would say it’s completely obvious that Mercedes will have it in the bag, but don’t discount Ferrari and I definitely think Williams or Toro Rosso could surprise, or perhaps even Red Bull. Whatever happens, rest assured that I will have the best seat in the house for all the on-track action.
Because remember, I’m here and you’re not.