We can say that DIECI now has a new home in Sochi, at the Autodrom circuit on the banks of the Black Sea. It was there on Sunday 30 April that the Russian Grand Prix was held, which unfortunately saw (OK so we’re Ferrari fans) Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas take the chequered flag ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari.
The Sochi circuit is one of the longest in the championship (almost 6 km) together with those of Spa-Francorchamps, Baku and Silverstone, and snakes past futuristic buildings constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympics, such as the Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Fisht Olimpic Stadium, which define the skyline of the circuit.
But this year, the circuit will also feature the yellow and black livery of DIECI machines, which will be providing a recovery and rescue service throughout the racing season. No fewer than 12 machines (including ten Zeus 37.7s and two Dedalus 30.7s) have been sent to Sochi, complete with a new two-tone livery specifically designed for the mission and which is no less spectacular than the multicoloured styling of the Formula 1 cars.
The vehicles are operated by TES GROUP, one of DIECI’s official dealers in the Russian Federation, which also provides a team of 16 people (14 operators and two service technicians) to support the track marshals along the route and operate the machines, which are strategically located and ready to intervene. The Sochi Circuit is made up of no fewer than 12 left-hand turns and only six right-hand turns (some of which are 90° corners), with very high stepped kerbs that test tyres, brakes and aerodynamic surfaces to the limit, not to mention the posteriors of the drivers! Considering the circuit’s challenging characteristics and the fierce battle between Ferrari and Mercedes at the top of the F1 rankings, the likelihood of the rescue vehicles being called into action was very high! And so it turned out. The recovery teams were involved in small routine interventions during the practice sessions, but it was during the race that all the efficiency, readiness and speed of the team and equipment were put under the spotlight. After a lightning getaway by Bottas, the two Ferrari cars led the chasing pack in hot pursuit of the Mercedes driver.
In the tussle that followed, Haas’ French driver Romain Grosjean collided with Jolyon Palmer’s Renault at the second corner, sending both of them spinning against the barrier. The two drivers emerged unscathed, albeit with their pride dented, but the accident brought out the safety car and caused the temporary suspension of the race.
In the space of a few minutes, the Zeus 37.7 machine positioned in the escape route, at the exit of the corner, hitched up and carried off the two cars, while marshals removed dangerous fragments from the track. Watching the TV coverage, it was impossible not to notice the cool-headed and effectively drilled operators, who in a very short time and under great pressure, enabled the race to resume.
While the Renault car was fairly easy to recover, being directly in front of the escape route, the Haas car could have posed more problems as it was pressed up against the barrier on the straight, dangerously close to the cars still on the track, which were zigzagging to keep their tyres warm.
But thanks to the Zeus and the team’s professionalism, this problem was also resolved in a matter of seconds. Sochi hosts many other sporting events in addition to Formula One: the TES GROUP team will stay in Sochi throughout the 2017 season for all other races held at the Autodrom, including Formula 3, Formula 4, Endurance and Max Power Cars competitions, to name just a few. Further evidence of the passion for motoring that unites DIECI with the kaleidoscopic world of racing.