Robert Shwartzman took his fifth podium of the season in front of a jubilant home crowd in Race 1 at Sochi, before following it up with a P4 finish in the Feature Race.

The PREMA Racing driver takes control of this week’s guest column to pen his thoughts on the incredible Russian support, and where he can improve in the break before Jeddah.

The Russian also shares some interesting stories from the weekend, including a visit to the Sochi Ornithological Park, a friendly duck, and a joke that he may have accidentally married a fan.

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The best point of the weekend was definitely the support from the crowd. It was unbelievable to see so many people there cheering. I didn’t expect there to be so many and with such enthusiasm, especially on the starting grid when the camera showed me waving, I could hear them.

It was really nice but at the same time you kind of feel that you don’t want to disappoint them, so it does add some pressure. Afterwards, on the Race 1 podium, the amount of people who stayed after all that rain all day was impressive and they were screaming my name, it really was something else.

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To be honest, I was really pushing hard to make a step forward in Quali, but it didn’t quite work out. Free Practice was good, and I was hoping qualifying would be good as well, but I didn’t manage to put everything together on the last lap.

I was very disappointed because it’s really the only point that is preventing me from getting better results and we keep working so hard. There was some improvement but still, we need to do more.


I learned a few things, and also things that we need to improve on. There is also something related to the car that I would like to see if we can change for next time.

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On the Wednesday before the weekend, I was invited to plant an olive tree at the Sochi Ornithological Park, so I planted my own tree, it was actually fun and quite cool. It was a new experience for me as I am not at all familiar with any gardening. I was also able to walk around the park afterwards and saw some ducks and there was one, in particular, that was very friendly and even sat close to me to take some pictures.

I also had a meet and greet on Sunday evening and a fan actually gave me a passport to sign which I thought was quite awkward. Hopefully, that person won’t get in trouble when she has to present it to passport control with my autograph on the page. However, the funniest part is probably the fact that in Russia when you get married, they stamp your passport, and the couple needs to sign on that stamp so some other people there started joking saying that now I was married to that person.

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It’s a new track for everyone. I’ve heard it’s a very quick track and I hope it will be nice to drive. I’ve never been to Saudi Arabia so I’m quite curious to visit the place. I hope we can do well there and have some fun as well.