No time for Max in qualifying due to penalty: 'Do our best tomorrow'

Published on 25 September 2021 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen deliberately refrained from setting a time during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix. It was already a known fact on Friday that the Dutchman would be starting the race from the back of the field because of a penalty handed out due to an engine change. Despite that Verstappen went out early on in qualifying on the wet Sochi Autodrom, he chose not to take any risks and let qualifying be. Lando Norris surprisingly took his first ever Formula 1-career pole home, right behind him Carlos Sainz in second place and George Russell third fastest. Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in fourth.

After qualifying, Max had the following to say: “It served no purpose to run during qualifying. I would still be starting from the back of the field and you run the risk of crashing in these conditions, so we can better be safe than sorry and that’s why we decided to not set a time during qualifying.”

Verstappen is determined to make his way through the pack tomorrow: “Tomorrow I need to overtake as many drivers as possible and score as many points as I can. It will be hard because the midfield is quite bunched up. I don’t think it will be as easy as in 2018 (when Max was able to advance all the way to P5). But we’ll do our best and I hope that we have a lot of fun.”

After it rained incessantly the entire morning on Sochi Autodrom, causing the third free practice to be cancelled, the clouds dissolve before qualifying and it’s also dry enough for the session to get underway. The drivers decide to head out on the indermediates with the exception of Fernando Alonso, who has mounted the full wets on his Alpine. Max also heads out but returns to the pits without having set a time and stays inside for the remainder of the session. He obviously ends up last. The Red Bull Racing-driver does not intend to take any risks for the race tomorrow. He was bound to start it from the back anyway as he had an engine change on Friday. The other dropouts in the first part of qualifying are: Kimi Raikkonen (P16), Mick Schumacher (P17), Antonio Giovinazzi (P18) and Nikita Mazepin (P19).

In Q2 the track keeps getting drier albeit that it’s still too wet for slicks. Both Mercedes come out on top, while Charles Leclerc sets no time in the second part of qualifying as he also suffers a penalty from also having changed an engine. The Monegasque will be joining Max on the last row on Sunday. Also in the relegation zone are: Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi.

Halfway the third and final qualifying session the ten remaining drivers decide to run on the dry weather tyres. Hamilton hits the wall entering the pits but after a pitstop for a new wing he is able to continue on. On a track that keeps getting drier Norris ultimately takes his first ever Formula 1-career pole home. Behind him Carlos Sainz and George Russell slot in. Hamilton spins and hits the guard rail on his final flying lap and ends up fourth fastest.

Sunday 14.00 hrs. local Dutch time the Russian Grand Prix will get underway.

Contest Russian GP: win a 1:43 scale model Max Verstappen RB12 Japan!

Results qualifying Russia:

1Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:47.2381:45.8271:41.993
2Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:47.9241:46.5211:42.510
3George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:48.3031:46.4351:42.983
4Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:45.9921:45.1291:44.050
5Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes1:48.3451:46.3611:44.156
6Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault1:47.8771:45.5141:44.204
7Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:46.3961:45.3061:44.710
8Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:48.3221:46.3601:44.956
9Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda1:46.4551:45.8341:45.337
10Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:48.0991:46.0701:45.865
11Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes1:47.2051:46.573
12Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda1:47.8281:46.641
13Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda1:48.8541:46.751
14Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:48.252DNS
15Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:48.470
16Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:49.586
17Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari1:49.830
18Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:51.023
19Nikita MazepinMAZHaas Ferrari1:53.764
20Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing HondaDNF