Max sixth after Friday practice: 'We'll set up the car for the race'
Published on 24 September 2021 by Stefan Meens
Max Verstappen clocked the sixth fastest time in the second practice session of the Russian Grand Prix. Valterri Bottas was quickest at the Sochi Autodrom with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton occupying P2. Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly completed the top three.
“We chose to change the power unit here after weighing our options”, said Max after Friday practice. “Also, if you look at the weather forecast for Saturday, we thought it was best to do it here.”
He added: “It’s going to be a difficult weekend to work our way through the field, but we have to take this penalty somewhere. If we don’t do it here, we’d have to do it somewhere else. We’ve chosen to take the penalty here and we just have to make the most of it.”
Max concluded: “We’ll try to set up the car as well as we can for the race after making the decision to change the engine. Hopefully it will work, but we’ll have to await tomorrow’s weather.”
At the start of the session, the sun is still out, prompting plenty of drivers to go on track. Max’ mechanics have had a busy lunch break replacing the Dutchman’s power-unit. It means Max will start Sunday’s Grand Prix from the back of the grid.
Fifteen minutes in, Max sits in P6 before heading out on a set of the soft Pirellis. He utilises the extra grip by posting his best lap of the session, which propels him to P2.
At the halfway point, Max bolts on a used set of mediums. His stint is curtailed due to a tear-off getting stuck in his rear suspension. After a quick visit to the garage, the Red Bull Racer heads back out.
Meanwhile, Antonio Giovinazzi causes the first and only red flag of the day by crashing his Alfa Romeo in turn nine. The Italian tries to limp his car back to the pits, but the team ask him to park after components keep falling of the damaged Alfa.
With fifteen minutes the go, the track is cleared. Most teams opt for long runs so very few drivers improve their lap times, including Max, who tells the team: “It is impossible to overtake with my top speed”. In the meantime, Max has dropped to sixth.
With rain predicted for Saturday, the teams focus on data gathering in the closing stages of the session, meaning the lap times stay stable as well as the leader boards.
|3||Pierre Gasly||GAS||AlphaTauri Honda||1:33.845||+0.252s||22|
|4||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:34.154||+0.561s||17|
|5||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:34.402||+0.809s||23|
|6||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:34.621||+1.028s||20|
|8||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Alpine Renault||1:34.762||+1.169s||21|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||VET||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:34.837||+1.244s||22|
|11||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:34.938||+1.345s||22|
|12||Kimi Räikkönen||RAI||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:35.052||+1.459s||23|
|13||George Russell||RUS||Williams Mercedes||1:35.094||+1.501s||19|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||GIO||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:35.178||+1.585s||14|
|15||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:35.334||+1.741s||21|
|16||Nicholas Latifi||LAT||Williams Mercedes||1:35.411||+1.818s||19|
|17||Daniel Ricciardo||RIC||McLaren Mercedes||1:35.630||+2.037s||12|
|18||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda||1:35.954||+2.361s||23|
|19||Nikita Mazepin||MAZ||Haas Ferrari||1:36.099||+2.506s||19|
|20||Mick Schumacher||MSC||Haas Ferrari||1:36.230||+2.637s||20|