Lirim Zendeli is hoping that wet conditions will once again befall the Sochi Autodrom on Sunday following his rise through the field on the slippery surface during Saturday’s Sprint Race.
Although the drivers used slick tyres for the race, which was delayed from the morning to the afternoon due to torrential rain, the track was wet off-line, making the lap extremely challenging for the drivers.
Zendeli started the race from 17th on the grid, but progressed through the grid and classified in 10th place at the chequered flag. The MP Motorsport driver says although he made minor errors, he was able to keep it on the road and benefit from his rivals’ mistakes.
“I just took advantage of some mistakes the others were doing,” Zendeli said. “I also did one or two small mistakes but they were really small. Some others did bigger mistakes where I could jump them.
“I think I got (Bent) Viscaal and (Marcus) Armstrong in the race and the rest was just someone on the reconnaissance lap, someone else spinning in the race. I was keeping the car on the track and when the moment was there, to overtake and when it’s not there, to not over-push.”
As Sprint Race 2 was cancelled due to the altered schedule this weekend, Zendeli won’t get the chance to start at the front of the grid – under normal circumstances, a 10th place finishing position in Sprint Race 1 would result in reverse grid pole position for the second race.
With just Sunday’s Feature Race left to run, Zendeli will take the start from 17th once more, and is hoping to avoid dry conditions as he believes that will make it much more difficult to cut through the field and reach the points.
“I think if the conditions are tricky again, I might make up even more positions,” Zendeli said. “For sure I will try to keep it on the track first. I hope for some rain because it mixes up the field."
“If it’s completely dry, from P17 in Sochi you can’t do a lot. It’s all 90 degree corners, you’re losing downforce behind the cars. Until you get back on the straights, you are just too far away. I just hope for some rain, some tricky conditions again and just replicate today or do it better.
“I know for the Feature Race where it really counts, how I have to drive. Now we’ll just compare some data with Richard (Verschoor) who’s also not slow. So I think we can adapt all the corners and see what we can do on a perfect lap tomorrow.”