(Motorsport-Total.com) – “I think Mercedes had the faster car this weekend,” says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. But could there still have been more for Max Verstappen in the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Sochi? Verstappen himself denies and explains: P2 behind Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was the maximum.
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He had no realistic chance of winning in Russia. “For that,” says Verstappen, “was [Bottas] too far away. It was about twelve seconds or so after the stop. You don’t just drive that. We then drove on the same tires and more or less the same speed. “
And before that he fought with blunt weapons anyway, says Verstappen. In contrast to Mercedes, he started on the medium tire compound and thus had “a few balance problems”, he explains. “We were a little better on the hard mix.” But Bottas already had enough cushion.
Verstappen on the worse side behind
Maybe it would have looked different if Verstappen had been able to launch a surprise attack in the first few meters of the race. But that failed when he got away from P2.
“On the inside [der Strecke] I didn’t have a lot of grip, “says Verstappen.” I felt that as soon as I released the clutch. That cost us a bit. “
“In the rearview mirror, however, I saw that the others on my side had also gotten off badly.” And Verstappen jokes: “If Valtteri hadn’t got in my way with his slipstream in qualifying, then I would have started from P3!”
Verstappen benefits from the Hamilton penalties
As it is, however, he drove towards the first braking zone with no real chance of an attack against Bottas or Lewis Hamilton – and straight ahead. According to Verstappen, he had to “naturally” drive through the “other chicane”, referring to the routing in the run-off zone for all those drivers who took the “shortcut” in Turn 2.
As a result, he briefly fell behind Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, but grabbed him again on the first lap and was third behind Bottas and Hamilton. And it would have stayed that way if Hamilton hadn’t received two five-second penalties. “We benefited from that,” admits team boss Horner.
He goes on to explain: “Max got every bit of power out of the car over the entire weekend. It’s the best result for us at this track so far. So we can be satisfied with Max’s performance. It was a flawless, mature one and prudent idea of him. “
Finally points again for Verstappen
Verstappen himself is “satisfied” with P2 in Sochi and says: “We drove between the Mercedes again. That’s okay, especially after two failures last time. It’s good points. And that’s how it should go every weekend. “
In the overall World Championship standings, however, almost everything remains the same: Verstappen is still third behind the Mercedes duo, but now 77 points behind table leaders Hamilton.