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Igora Drive opened a version of the track built for Formula 1 — what it looks like, photo, video


Today, the Igora Drive track has officially become longer: a new section has been put into operation at the autodrome, thanks to which the length has increased by more than a kilometer – up to 5183 meters. It was on this configuration that the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix was to be held from 2023. The F-1 stage, for obvious reasons, will not reach the Leningrad Region, but the construction of the new section was nevertheless completed – and journalists, including the correspondent of the Championship, were able to study everything.


The reconstruction of the track became known immediately after the decision to move Formula 1 from Sochi to St. Petersburg. Four kilometers by today’s formula times is not enough, plus there were fears that even after the change of location, the Russian stage would not start to indulge in overtaking, which was most often difficult at Sochi Autodrom. The old Igor Drive straight lines didn’t seem long enough for F-1 cars, and the new configuration was supposed to improve that as well. Plus, it allows you to successfully use the hilly terrain and make the track suitable for motorcycle racing of any level – up to MotoGP.

“We had a collaborative design approach,” says Igora Drive race track director Andrea Benozzi. — We have created a virtual table together with the bureau of Hermann Tilke, FIA, FIM, RAF, MFR, builders and ourselves. We constantly communicated with each other to reach the ideal project.”

“Modernization took place at a fast pace,” adds the famous racer and one of the inspirers of the Igora Drive project, Vladimir Vasiliev. “We started last year against the background of the coronavirus, political issues interfered, but we met the deadline. The track that exists now has no analogues in the world. Let someone say where there is a similar track.

Full scheme of the route “Igora Drive”

What does the new site look like and what else could it be

So, above you can see the track in Grand Prix configuration – including the new section from the extended straight after turn 12 to the start of the starting straight after the steep 20th. During the presentation, journalists were able to ride along the updated track (of course, in the passenger seat), and inspect it from two stands at once.

In short, impressive! Photos and even videos cannot convey the real height difference. I especially remember the descent (slope – 12.5%!) from the 15th turn to the 16th. The most insidious place, which will surely be both madly in love with the pilots and annoying. Mistakes with blocking the wheels are almost inevitable here, which was once again proved by the RCRS pilots who were invited to ride along the updated track: almost every time they passed the new section, smoke was seen from under the front wheels and it was far from always possible to choose the optimal trajectory.

“I was a little confused when I went through the corners for the first time,” admitted the former Russian W Series racer, and now a member of the RSCG, Irina Sidorkova. – I like what I do not understand, and now I did not understand it! I can not fail to note the 16th turn with a huge descent down. You’ve done an excellent job.”

Elevation difference on the Igora Drive highway

The authors of the project hope for an interesting fight not only on the two straights framing the new section, but also inside the new section. The track on it was specially made wider (15 meters with an allowable 12) in order to increase the chances of fighting and crossing trajectories. Yes, it will probably be difficult on long F-1 cars, but you should definitely count on the struggle of cars from other series.

As for F-1 (do we believe that at least someday the Grand Prix will reach Igora?), We are waiting for attacks on braking before the 13th turn and certainly on the starting line, whose length has now exceeded one kilometer . Obviously, it will also benefit that the last 12th turn is slow, which means that the pursuer will be able to hang on the opponent’s rear wing.

View of the new site “Igora Drive”

Photo: Evgeny Kustov, “Championship”

Interestingly, the resulting track configuration is not the first option that Igora discussed with Formula 1 and other interested parties. In an interview with the “Championship” Benozzi said that initially the straight before the 13th turn had to go even further, there were other differences. However, in the end, the designers took into account the relief as much as possible: the natural hill was not destroyed. In addition, the final version is safer for motorcycle racing – do not forget that in the future Igora wants to accept not only F-1, but also MotoGP or the World Superbike.

Finally, the fans should definitely like the new site. Three grandstands are planned at once, from which all eight new turns (a rarity for any race track in the world) will be visible: in front of the 13th turn and at its top from the top of the relegation zone, as well as a real amphitheater next to the 16th and 17th turns. Your author would take a ticket to the future podium behind the 13th turn: if you sit higher, then you will probably see the entire starting line.

View from the amphitheater

Photo: Evgeny Kustov, “Championship”

What else has changed on the track

In general, it is correct to speak not about the construction of a new section of Igora, but about the reconstruction of the entire route. For example, all external curbs on the track were replaced – this was necessary to obtain a license of the highest category from the FIM. In addition, they changed the entry to and exit from the pit lane. Previously, a situation could theoretically arise in which the pilot would fly out in the first turn and crash right into the side of an unsuspecting opponent who had just made a pit stop. Now the exit in this place is reliably protected by barriers.

At the same time, the exit turned out to be difficult, somewhat reminiscent of Abu Dhabi: someone can overdo it and touch the bump stop. However, the “Championship” was assured that in this case, the operational evacuation of the broken car was thought out. What about the risk of an accident? Benozzi answered this with two sayings: Shit happens and No risk – no fun!

If we talk about the general characteristics of the track, then the F-1 cars of the 2022 model should develop a speed of 325 km / h on the starting straight, and the approximate lap time is one minute and 22 seconds. At the same time, Benozzi expects that there will be no disputes on the Igor about observing the limits of the track: high curbs and the very configuration of the circle is such that leaving the side of the road should not give the riders any benefit.

Starting line “Igory Drive”

Photo: Evgeny Kustov, “Championship”

What else is on Igor for fans

In addition to the new section, the journalists were shown other numerous Igora facilities, which are also quite ready to host world-class stages: rallycross and motocross tracks, as well as a go-kart track. Also on the territory of the autodrome there is a cool car museum, a counter-emergency training center and other facilities.

“The capabilities of the complex, one might say, are intoxicating,” said Alexei Titov, General Director of ANO Rosgonki. – If in Sochi, where we grew up, we are always limited by something (fences, local residents, safety for motorcycle racing), then there are no restrictions here. Only my own imagination. We plan to use all sites.”

Right now, Igora is ready to simultaneously receive 35,000 spectators, which is surely enough for any Russian competition. When it comes to international series, a project has already been approved that will increase the capacity to 65,000. According to Vladimir Vasilyev, there is even a building permit. At the same time, additional tunnels for fans have already been built during the reconstruction, which will allow them to move faster around the territory.

Karting track “Igory Drive”

Photo: Evgeny Kustov, “Championship”

How to get there?

When the Igora was preparing to host the Formula 1 Grand Prix, it was publicly announced that the autodrome had improved transport accessibility. It was planned to renovate two railway stations – Sosnovo and the 69th kilometer, in the days of the Grand Prix, “Swallows” were supposed to go, and shuttles from the stations to the track. These plans have now been put on hold. However, the railway still did not disappear anywhere, no one forbade launching shuttles in the event of mass events.

There is also a bus service to St. Petersburg, although it will take a long time to get there: even without traffic jams, it will take about an hour. But the stop is right at the entrance to the circuit. And yet, at the moment it is obvious that the easiest way to get to Igora is by car.

If we return to F-1, then the organizers were preparing to equip campsites – in anticipation of both foreigners (primarily Finns) and Russian fans. “We already see that this story is developing in Russia,” Titov said.

Related news

Rosgonki said that with the money paid by F-1 for the canceled Russian Grand Prix

And what are the plans now?

Obviously, in the near future, Igora will focus on domestic competitions: this year the stages of the RCRS, RDS, REC are planned. Events not directly related to racing are also planned (Garage Fest festival, Drive Show car theater). Of course, track days are planned, during which you can drive along the track in your own car (after passing the technical inspection). In general, the maximum load is planned from May to September, as well as in winter (the main thing is that it be cold, not slushy).

What about international racing? “We had very active dialogues with all the world series,” says Titov. – With Dorna about MotoGP/Superbike, with WEC, WRC… Everyone was extremely interested in this facility. For example, with the WRC it was possible to hold a super special on the race track and then go to the region. As soon as the situation allows us to resume all these dialogues, we will do it without fail. A lot of work has already been done. We want everything back here.”

Formula 1 finally abandoned Russia. A couple more years – and our Grand Prix would have been loved


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