The 2017 F1 VTB Russian Grand Prix takes place at the Sochi Autodrome this weekend. For the past two weeks, the organisers have been creating public events meant to engage the local community who are expected to make up the highest number of spectators at the races from April 28-30.
When I visited the largest shopping centre in town, the Moremall [pronounced Moramol], a few days ago, I witnessed a fan event right in the middle of the mall.
About 50 fans, men, women and children, milled around the exhibit to get a firsthand view of what it feels like to be in the F1.
The Sochi Autodrome placed a replica Formula 1 car on a dais for fans to take pictures. They also placed the winners’ podium which some fans climbed while imagining standing next to Lewis Hamilton and popping their champagne bottles.
Some fans raced miniature F1 cars on a miniature race circuit. The original length of the Sochi race circuit is 5.848 km.
I am not certain who he was but someone dressed as a driver sat down, signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans. My skepticism being that the Bahrain GP held on the day I saw this exhibit. Whoever it was, the fans looked pleased to meet an F1 driver.
While the exhibit took place, a nearby stand held a desk where fans could make enquiries and purchase tickets for the race. The cheapest tickets cost 5000 rubles (about $88).
A classmate who is interning informed me that F1 teams would hold official autograph signings at the race circuit with their star drivers on Friday and Saturday. But the only way to get to meet Hamilton, Vettel and company is by purchasing a ticket. Talk about incentivisation of photo-ops.
One would have hoped to meet drivers at the Moremall during the week, I am certain that would do great traction if advertised.
In order for fans to pick up their tickets, the Sochi Autodrom Twitter account (@SochiAutdrom) announced that the Main Ticket Box Office commenced operations on April 18.
While I hope to see at least one of the race days, I was very keen to be a volunteer but I was not selected. I guess better luck next time.
До свидания и удачи