Max Verstappen second in Russian Grand Prix: 'Very happy'

Published on 27 September 2020 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen finished second in the Russian Grand Prix. From second position on the grid, Max ended up after the start behind the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in third position. Because of a ten seconds time penalty for Hamilton, for two incorrect practice starts ahead of the race, the Brit fell after his pitstop behind Verstappen. Verstappen came over the finish behind winner Bottas in second position, his seventh podium of the season. Hamilton finished third.

After the race Max gives his view on the start, where he went straight ahead at the second corner: “It was interesting in the first few corners. I had very little grip on the inside of turn two, so there we lost some time. I had to go through that other chicane, and Luckily got through there without any issues.”

Verstappen on the continuation of the race: “After the restart I think we were a little bit slower on the on the medium tyre. I was having some problems with the balance. In the pitstop we took off some front wing, and on the hard tyre we were a bit more competitive. It was a lonely race, but in the end I saw that I was closing in on Bottas and tried to go for the fastest lap. But the tyres were gone by then. In the end we scored a good result with splitting the Mercedes and finishing within eight seconds of the race leader, on a circuit where we are not very competitive. So it was a good race.”

Despite Hamilton’s penalty a win was not possible according to Max: “The Mercedes are faster and would have overtaken me anyway. This circuit is known as the Mercedes circuit. They have always been dominant here. I tried to drive my own race. I think we managed it well and we did everything right as a team. We maximised the result and I am very happy with second position. After two retirements it is great to come back and score some good points.”

For the coming races the goal is clear: “Normally we should be able to fight for the podium, as we have done this whole year, so that is what we will be doing the rest of the year.”

Ahead of the race it is announced that Alexander Albon gets a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, putting him back in P15. Nicholas Latifi also gets a five-place grid penalty for the same reason and has to start from the back. Max starts the race on the medium compound tyre, in contrast to the man on pole Hamilton, who starts on the soft tyre.

Max has a poor start and falls back behind the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas. When entering the second corner Max misses his breakpoint and has to take the chicane back to the track. Verstappen comes back on track in fourth position but can overtake Daniel Ricciardo for P3.

Carlos Sainz also goes straight ahead in the second corner but hits the barrier when going through the chicane. The McLaren driver slides with a damages car over the track and is lucky that nobody crashes into him. The Spaniard is okay but is the first to retire from the race.

A little bit further on Lance Stroll is hit by Charles Leclerc. The Canadian crashes on the inside of turn six into the barrier with his Racing Point and retires. Obviously, the safety car comes out.

In lap six the race is restarted. Hamilton stays in the lead in front of Bottas and Verstappen. Ahead of the race Lewis Hamilton performed twice a practice start in the wrong place and the Brit gets a ten seconds time penalty which he has to take during his pitstop.

In lap seventeen the race leader makes his pitstop, at which he must stand still for ten seconds before the mechanics can change the tyres. He changes to the hard compound tyres and falls back in eleventh position. In the lead Bottas has clean air in front of him and increases the gap to Verstappen.

Max makes his pitstop in lap 26. In a very quick stop of 1.9 seconds the mechanics of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing change the medium tyres for a set of hard tyres. The Dutchman enters the track in fourth position. Not much later he overtakes the home racer Daniil Kvyat for third position. When Leclerc makes his stop in lap 29, Max is back in second position eleven seconds behind Bottas. Hamilton is then approximately eight seconds behind Verstappen in P3.

In lap 42 Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean hit each other in turn two. The two drivers can continue, but because Grosjean hits the Styrofoam signs with his Haas there is a short Virtual Safety car to clear the track.

During the rest of the race there are no changes in the order in the lead. Bottas takes his second victory of the season. Verstappen finishes in more than seven seconds behind the Finn in second position. Lewis Hamilton finishes third. Sergio Perez takes fourth position, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc in P5 and P6. Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon complete the top ten.

Results Grand Prix Russia:

1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes531:34:00.36426
2Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda53+7.729s18
3Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes53+22.729s15
4Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes53+30.558s12
5Daniel RicciardoRICRenault53+52.065s10
6Charles LeclercLECFerrari53+62.186s8
7Esteban OconOCORenault53+68.006s6
8Daniil KvyatKVYAlphaTauri Honda53+68.740s4
9Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda53+89.766s2
10Alexander AlbonALBRed Bull Racing Honda53+97.860s1
11Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari52+1 lap0
12Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari52+1 lap0
13Sebastian VettelVETFerrari52+1 lap0
14Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari52+1 lap0
15Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault52+1 lap0
16Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes52+1 lap0
17Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari52+1 lap0
18George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes52+1 lap0
0Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault0DNF0
0Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes0DNF0