Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen says that starting Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi circuit from second on the grid with a time of 01:31.867s and speaking following the action he said:
P2 was very unexpected and I don’t say this often but I think this was one of my best ever qualifying laps and it felt really good. I was struggling a bit in Q1 and Q2 with the balance of the car and we made some small improvements to stabilise everything and in Q3, especially on the second run, they worked and the lap was good. Of course we want to fight for pole and wins but this year it is not possible all the time, so then to be able to split the two Mercedes cars is very satisfying and I’m happy to be on the front row here. I’m starting on the dirty side of the grid which does make a difference with the initial launch but I’m also on the medium tyre which is the best way for us. If we can have a decent start, the tow effect is very big so who knows what can happen into Turn Two. I think the Mercedes does still have more overall pace so they will be hard to beat but I’m happy with today and I think we really extracted more than we thought was possible and we can be very happy with that.
Alex Albon starts the race from tenth place with a time of 01:33.008s and speaking following the action he commented saying:
I’m not too sure what happened with Q3 so we need tonight to sit down and look at it with the engineers. Q1 and Q2 felt ok and then everyone just seemed to make a jump in Q3 whereas we didn’t. It didn’t feel like we had much left in the car and my laps didn’t feel bad so there’s a bit of head scratching going on. You can tidy up some things here and there to find a couple of tenths maybe but obviously the gap is quite big today so it’s confusing and we have work to do. There was a bit of spinning and track limits going on which I think was because the wind changed quite a lot from FP3 to qualifying so some people were getting caught out. We’ll do our homework tonight so we have a better day tomorrow. It’s a long run to Turn One and anything can happen so let’s see what we can do.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner commented saying:
We certainly didn’t expect to be on the front row coming into the weekend as Sochi has always been one of our weaker tracks, so it is very satisfying to be able to split the two Mercedes today. Max played it very smart in the final lap of Q3. He waited for Bottas to finish his lap and then got a tow from him all the way down from Turn One to Turn Two, meaning he was already a tenth up at the exit of Turn Two. He then had to get the rest of the lap spot on, which he did and P2 was a phenomenal result with arguably one of the best laps he’s driven this season. Alex did a good job to get himself comfortably into Q3 and then unfortunately he was just at the wrong end of the group at the end of the session. It was so tight out there that a couple of tenths would have made things look very different for him, but we have a good race car and we all know he can overtake, so we will definitely see some action from him tomorrow.