Russian GP grid penalty for Verstappen
By Mat Coch
Friday 27th September, 2019 - 10:16am
A new specification of Honda engine will see Max Verstappen relegated five places on the grid for Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
Despite the prospect of starting buried in the pack, the Dutchman remains optimistic of his chances in Sochi.
“Last year we started from the back and overtaking didn’t seem like a big problem around here,” Verstappen said.
“Maybe the midfield teams are a little bit more competitive this year, but it should be alright.
“You might lose a little bit of time to the guys ahead, but realistically speaking, I think you would anyway qualify fourth or fifth, so it’s not anyway going to change a lot.
“I don’t think it’s going to hurt us a lot around here,” he added.
“It’s not any more back of the grid, it’s only five places. That’s why I think we went for it.”
Versatppen finished fifth in Russia in both 2017 and 2018, Red Bull’s best results at the venue.
It’s a race that has typically favoured Mercedes, the Anglo-German marque having won all four previous races.
Red Bull sits third in the constructors’ championship this year, with Verstappen having twice won.
The last success came in Germany, while Ferrari has found form in recent races to take the last three grands prix on the trot.
On the latter of those occasions Verstappen was third, ahead of the two Mercedes.
“We went a different direction than the previous years, and it maybe didn’t work out like we wanted to probably,” Verstappen said of Red Bull’s approach last time out.
“There were little things with the simulator we could have done better.
“But at the end of the day, the simulator has helped us so much that one weekend where it didn’t work out can happen.
“Unfortunately it was Singapore, but we’ll look into everything to improve it for next year.”
Opening practice for the Russian Grand Prix begins this evening at 1800 AEST, with Practice 2 to follow at 2200.