Red Bull is about to catch up at the Russian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen managed to beat Valtteri Bottas’Mercedes in Sochi qualifying. But the Dutch will not stand on the fourth starting point. Because Honda switched the combustion engine, it goes five places back to position nine. Team colleague Alex Albon had an accident in Q1. Thailand will attack including resettlement for changing the combustion engine from start-up site 18.
It was okay, only the wind was a little stronger compared to Friday,”says Verstappen after the qualifying.”It was okay, only the wind was a little stronger than on Friday.” In the last sector, this caused some over-spending. We couldn’t do much more because we’re wasting too much time on Ferrari. Yesterday we had the same speed, but today we lost more than a second. If the delay is so great, one cannot fight in qualifying.”
Almost 0.7 seconds cheated Verstappen’s delay in Q3.” I think I’ll get everything out of the car. I can’t say much about my teammates. I’m trying to get as close to Mercedes and Ferrari as possible. Some routes are better for us than others. Generally speaking, we’re missing something on these two teams. Today I was able to hit a Mercedes. The round was good, that was all it was possible. I am satisfied with that.”
Hiding hopes for Safety-Car and other chances
Since Ferrari and Mercedes will start from the first two rows and will stick Hidden as the ninth in the middle field, the chances of a podium are slim.” Realistically speaking, place five is the maximum,”the 22-year-old holds. To make it a little easier, you take the faster tires to start. If nothing happens in the race, it will be place five.”
Unlike Singapore last weekend, it is easier to overtake on the 5,8 kilometer long Sochi track. As the walls are relatively close to the track, there is also a chance of safety car phases. Besides, Mercedes has a different strategy because you start with the media tires. Depending on the race, there may be opportunities for people to become better than the fifth.
Albon crashes already in Q1
A qualifying to forget experienced album. In his first flying Q1 round, the Thai had a yellow flag. In his second attempt, in the narrow right turn 13, his rear suddenly broke out. Albon turned and pushed his back against the line. Since the rear wing was badly damaged, the rookie had to get out. His day was prematurely over.
“There is not much to say. I just drove a little too fast into the curve. I thought I could make it, but then the hedge broke out. With the back wind it was not easy in this curve,”commented Albon the crash.
These are incidents that Helmut Marko and Co. do not like to see, because after all it is still a question of who will be the teammate of Verstappen next year.
“I would not say that I am under pressure for my cockpit. For me this is an opportunity,”Albon does not want to get stuck on this issue. What would have been possible without crash?” It’s hard to say, but it got better in qualifying, and I understood the car. My Pace wasn’t so bad, I had a good feeling. I would have liked to have been near Bottas, but you never know.”
Albon must understand how to drive the Red Bull
Even in Sochi, Albon has not been able to get closer to understand. I’m trying to understand how to drive a car. It’s different and it takes time to understand. It is about driving in general and not about one particular thing. You have to adjust to every car. I spent a lot of time in Toro Rosso. Our driving styles are not so different. There are little things here and there.”
Both Red Bulls are very similar in set-up. I haven’t had the confidence in this place all weekend. Since FT1 it has been difficult, but everything has slowly improved,”says Albon about the two training days.
“I felt better before qualifying and got into a rhythm. Sochi is one of those lines where if you don’t feel comfortable in a curve, you don’t feel comfortable in a curve. This is how it felt for me until qualifying.”
Now the formula-1-rookie has to show overtaking manoeuvres again on Sunday from Startplatz 18. In the last three races, Albon was able to show off with some strong maneuvers. Here the strategy is clear with one stop. In Singapore it was 50:50 between one and two stops. But here you can overtake. One has to manage the overheating of the tyres,”he thinks on race day.
“When you start from behind, it is not easy, of course. I’ve done this several times this year. It’s a good way to fight and overtake. We must choose the right tyre for the strategy. In FT2, due to the damage to the basement, I missed time for long runs. In FT3, it looked pretty good,”Albon calculates good chances to get through the field. I don’t worry too much.”