Sochi Grand Prix shows Russia 'very, very serious' about F1, Lewis Hamilton tells RT

Sochi Grand Prix shows Russia 'very, very serious' about F1, Lewis Hamilton tells RT
While beautiful women, vodka and cold weather are the first words associated with Russia for British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, his quest for victory is dominating his trip to Russia and the Sochi Grand Prix that kicks off this weekend.

“Coming to a new circuit, you always have to be the one to master it first,” Lewis told RT, after a presentation of a new watch promoted by his sponsor IWC Schaffaussen in Moscow on Tuesday. “I have tonight, when I try and see if I can find some Russian food and experience a bit of Moscow before I go to Sochi tomorrow.”

The Mercedes AMG team driver and 2008 F1 World Champion has never experienced the Sochi Autodrom, which is about to host Russia’s first-ever F1 competition. Lewis so far, has experienced the track only through a simulator.

“It is fast, it is a kind of medium- to high-speed circuit. It looks like it will have good opportunities to overtake. It is going to be around the Olympic area, so it is going to be kind of neat in that respect,” Lewis said.

Lewis Hamilton (RT video)

The quality of the 5,853-meter F1 street circuit in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi reflects Russia's serious attitude towards racing and sports in general, Lewis said.

“It is kind of neat to see Russia coming into Formula 1. It's a cool sport. You have such a big country here,” Lewis said.

“That means that they are very, very serious about it, to have the Grand Prix here as well as the Olympics. They really put so much effort into it. So I really hope that this is the beginning of a new relationship with Russia, for Formula One, and for me with Russia.”

Commenting on young Russian driver Daniil Kvyat, who will race for one of the top F1 teams, Infiniti Red Bull Racing, in the 2015 season, Lewis said that Kvyat has “really shown that he is very fast.”

“He is always in the qualifying three, even with a car that’s really not good enough,” Lewis said. “He is super - exceeding already in the car that he is in. And next year he’ll get a chance to be in a top team, so I have no doubt that he will be at the front of the grid with us fighting for the championship next year.”

The F1 Grand Prix starts in Sochi on October 12, with Jules Bianchi, a French driver for the Marussia F1 team, still in the hospital following a terrifying crash in Japan.

“As I crossed the line, obviously I was pleased to have finally won at Suzuka – but as soon as we got back to the pits and heard what happened to Jules it suddenly didn't seem relevant anymore. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” Lewis wrote on his website before he arrived in Russia.

Lewis Hamilton (RT video)

As for the Sochi track, Lewis said he was “looking forward to seeing what it’s really like and how our car performs there.”

The 2014 Russian Grand Prix will be the first big event for the Sochi Autodrom, a brand new 55,000-capacity venue built near the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Krasnodar Region.

Ahead of the historic race, a number of participants voiced their excitement about Sochi’s prospects on the F1 website.

“The track is unique as it is the only one on the F1 calendar to be located on an Olympic site,” Red Bulls' Sebastian Vettel says. “Generally, I think it has a very successful mix of corners with different characters, some of them will be very difficult, and that’s ultimately what we want as drivers.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director, said that the Sochi track will not only benefit Russia but the entire sport.

“The arrival of the Russian Grand Prix marks a significant moment in Formula One’s ongoing expansion into new global territories. While that’s significant for the sport, it’s equally important that the event proves able to deliver sporting spectacle and excitement for the fans,” he said.