Russian Omens: Superstition in Sochi

Do we have bad luck in Sochi? It's the only luck we do have. It's certainly not been a happy track for us: we've got a best finish of fifth, courtesy of Dany Kvyat in 2015, and a fairly miserable best grid position of fifth also, for Daniel last year.

In fact last year Russia was the only grand prix at which we didn't score. And this, despite both cars getting to the flag with most of their bits still attached. It's also the only grand prix on the present calendar (except Azerbaijan, which – technically – is new) where we haven't had a podium. 

Perhaps we're doing something wrong. Is there a particularly Russian superstition we're not taking suitably seriously? Well, could be. Consulting the grimoires in the Black Library (Google) throws up all manner of things the Russians know better than to do that we cheerfully ignore like a blindfolded flaming torch juggler in a fireworks factory.

Apparently in Russia superstition demands a group, before embarking on any journey, to sit down in silence. It doesn't have to be for long but everyone, including those not travelling, should participate to ensure a safe trip. If you've ever been to our factory you'd know silence isn't really on the agenda (nor, for that matter, is sitting down). In fact, if anything, it tends to be at its loudest just before we depart, whether that's composite techs frantically shaving body parts to be despatched as hand luggage or just the general hubbub of people trying to find the stuff that's vanished off their desk after the previous race.

Then, after the moment's silence, in a variation on the theme of 'break a leg', it's unlucky to thank anyone wishing you good luck (ni pukha ni pera!). The correct response is k chyortu! (to hell with it!). We're actually pretty much on the money with this one already.

Also, according to Russian superstition, spilling salt will lead to an argument between family members. Forgive us for pointing out the obvious but spilling stuff on the floor generally leads to an argument and there's nothing superstitious about it. For instance, if Big Steve's just swept the floor in the team hospitality building, if you go pouring salt all over it, there are going to be harsh words.

It's never a mistake to arrive with a bouquet of flowers when invited to someone's home in Russia but – with a brilliant OCD twist that would make even Mark Webber blush – the bouquet has to be filled with an odd number of stems (as an even number signifies a funeral). We don't generally have flowers in the garage – but we do use bushes on the suspension. Do they count? It's a problem 'cos obviously there's an even number of corners on an F1 car... hmmm....

Finally, one that we can fully get behind. When having a drink, it's bad luck to leave the empties on the table: properly they should be placed on the floor. This is not so much superstition as tradition. Apparently, after the Battle of Paris (1814 – but you knew that) Russian soldiers noted Parisian restauranteurs charged customers according to the number of empties on the table. With a pragmatism bordering on the downright naughty they hid their empties under the table and brought the practice home along with their war stories. We don't generally invade Paris (as that would annoy the FIA) but having been fleeced for more than our fair share at French Grands Prix over the years (and, happily, looking forward to being so again soon) we reckon the restauranteurs probably had it coming...

Check out some other Russian superstitions below: