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.

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Results second free practice Russia:

1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:33.593 19
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:33.637+0.044s22
3Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda1:33.845+0.252s22
4Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:34.154+0.561s17
5Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:34.402+0.809s23
6Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:34.621+1.028s20
7Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:34.678+1.085s22
8Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault1:34.762+1.169s21
9Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes1:34.837+1.244s22
10Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:34.925+1.332s24
11Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda1:34.938+1.345s22
12Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:35.052+1.459s23
13George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:35.094+1.501s19
14Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:35.178+1.585s14
15Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:35.334+1.741s21
16Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:35.411+1.818s19
17Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes1:35.630+2.037s12
18Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda1:35.954+2.361s23
19Nikita MazepinMAZHaas Ferrari1:36.099+2.506s19
20Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari1:36.230+2.637s20