Starting in 2023, the Russian Grand Prix will be changing venues. No longer will we see the cars take to the track at the Sochi Autodrom. Instead, we’ll be hitting the ground at the Autodrom Igora Drive just outside St. Petersburg.
In case you’re wondering, this new track was indeed designed by Herman Tilke, the designer responsible for most of the new additions to the Formula One calendar. He’s known for his more technical and almost clinical response to design, opting against the more traditional track style that takes advantage of the natural landscape.
Part of the appeal here is in the location. Sochi may have been a decent place to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, but a track within driving distance from St. Petersburg very likely makes for a stronger case in terms of attracting fans. It’s also within 100 miles of the Russian-Finnish border, which I have to imagine contributed to the development of the track. Finnish drivers Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen both have their own respective fan bases, so this may be a way to get fans of those drivers interested.
More details will be released in the near future, but we do know that the track boasts 15 turns and runs for about 2.5 miles. It also offers 10 different track layouts, which opens up the track for other race series to compete. The German touring car DTM series was set to run the track back in 2020, but those plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s Russian GP is set to take place in September, but that date may change for 2023 considering the fact that St. Petersburg is about 1,500 miles north of Sochi and has a massively different climate.
The addition of the track near St. Petersburg is just one of several new circuits set to change the face of the F1 calendar in the next few years.