Max seventh after Friday practice in Russia: 'Third will be difficult'

Published on 25 September 2020 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen finished the second free practice session of the Russian Grand Prix in seventh place. Valtteri Bottas was quickest at the Sochi Autodrom, followed by Mercedes colleague Lewis Hamilton. Daniel Riccardo (Renault) completed the top three.

“We know that this isn’t one of our best circuits”, said Max post free practice. “We tried a couple of downforce levels to see what works best. We could’ve done a better job in FP2, but as I said, we’re tyring some things ahead of tomorrow.”

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver continued: “It will be difficult to qualify in third, but things are looking better for the race and I’m happy with that. We still have some work to do, but it’s clear Renault are a threat. They were very competitive today, and you don’t know who else will be up there. But we have to look at ourselves first and make sure we make the right choices and that the car is stable.”

At the start of the session, Max does not leave the pits until fifteen minutes into FP2. When he eventually does so, he heads out on the medium Pirelli tyres. His timed lap propels him to third.

Max communicates to the team that he does not feel comfortable in the car; he is missing head support, but nevertheless remains on track. At the top of the timing sheets, Mercedes set the pace, after which there is a considerable gap to the ‘best of the rest’ and midfield teams.

After thirty minutes, Max heads out on a new set of the soft tyres. His first flying lap, grants him P5. A couple of laps later, Max spins. Although he did not damage the car, the Dutchman steers his RB16, which appears to struggle with a lack of grip, back to the pits.

With less than half an hour remaining, most teams shift their focus to race simulations. On one of the long runs, Valterri Bottas complains he struggles to steer the car because his left hand is obstructed. After a brief visit to the pits, and handing a mechanic something from the cockpit, Bottas resumes his stint.

The final few minutes see most drivers out on track without any changes on the leader boards, meaning Mercedes finish Friday in Sochi in first and second.

Russian GP contest: win a signed Max Verstappen cap and a 1:43 RB12 scale model!

Results second free practice Russia:

1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:33.519 37
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:33.786+0.267s33
3Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:34.577+1.058s27
4Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:34.723+1.204s36
5Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:34.847+1.328s33
6Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:34.890+1.371s35
7Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:35.048+1.529s30
8Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:35.052+1.533s35
9Esteban OconOCORenault1:35.139+1.620s28
10Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:35.183+1.664s35
11Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda1:35.210+1.691s35
12Alexander AlbonALBRed Bull Racing Honda1:35.242+1.723s31
13Daniil KvyatKVYAlphaTauri Honda1:35.461+1.942s37
14Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:35.516+1.997s33
15Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:35.563+2.044s31
16George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:35.575+2.056s30
17Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:35.627+2.108s34
18Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:35.729+2.210s32
19Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:36.053+2.534s36
20Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:36.858+3.339s32