F1 2021
Round 15

A Tricky Russian Grand Prix Qualifying For Honda-Powered Cars

ru Sochi Autodrom

It will be a battle through the field for the Honda-powered drivers in Russia as challenging conditions resulted in just one car qualifying inside the top ten.

A Tricky Russian Grand Prix Qualifying For Honda-Powered Cars

FP3 was cancelled due to the bad weather, but conditions significantly improved by the time qualifying was scheduled to start and could get underway on time as planned. Q1 began on a wet track but with intermediate tyres, but Max’s grid penalty meant he completed just two laps before ending his session, ensuring he will start 20th.

Sergio was quick in Q1 and was fastest overall before a spin on his final lap saw him drop to third, but he advanced safely alongside Pierre in sixth and Yuki in 15th place.

While the track was always getting quicker, it wasn’t at the rate that has been seen at other venues because the temperature was so low, and that meant all of Q2 also took place on intermediate tyres. Sergio secured his spot in Q3 but at the end of the session we unfortunately lost Pierre in 12th and Yuki in 13th, with the Frenchman feeling he was impeded by a Williams on one of his laps.

Sergio was the only one of the four Honda-powered drivers through to the top ten shootout and the conditions provided an even bigger test as there was a slight dry line and slick tyres were possible. Timing the change was crucial as the drivers who put on slicks earlier were able to improve at the end of the session, and Sergio missed out on that front to qualify ninth on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
After FP3 was cancelled because of the bad weather, qualifying started in the wet, but the surface dried gradually across the sessions, making it difficult for the teams and drivers to find the right moment to switch to slick tyres, as even in Q3 the track was still quite slippery. It was not the best of results for the Honda drivers today: Checo was the highest placed in 9th, while Pierre and Yuki are 12th and 13th, unable to get into Q3. As for Max, there was no point in risking anything as he must start from the back tomorrow, following his PU changes. Now, we will do our best to prepare for what should be a dry race, with the intention of getting all four of our drivers to move up the order, getting all the potential out of their cars.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
Things were looking really promising and we had a strong Q1 and Q2. But in the changing weather and track conditions, timing is important and in hindsight we probably could have tried slick tyres one lap earlier. As we know anything can happen in the race and a positive to take from today is that the car was performing very well in the wet. We are going to move positively into Sunday and the main target will be to get a strong start and then put together the best possible race.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I don’t have too much to say right now, I think we had the pace to easily make it through to Q3, so I’m obviously frustrated. In Q1 I was really fast in these conditions, I felt comfortable in the car and could push straight away. However, for Q2 I stayed out on just one set of tyres, that were completely used by the end of the session. I think this was a big mistake from our side, but I will have to speak to the team to understand more about what happened today. It’s a missed opportunity not making it through to Q3, but we now need to look forward to tomorrow and see what we can do to make up lost ground.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I’m fairly pleased with today, I made it through to Q2 which is a step-up for me, particularly after yesterday. My mechanics worked hard last night to get the car in a better position coming into Qualifying today and I felt a bit more confident in the car. Obviously, the conditions were completely different to yesterday’s sessions, but we’ll hopefully see more improvements tomorrow, in dry conditions.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
We decided not to do too many laps in qualifying as the risk of having a moment or an accident would not be worth it, especially as I’m starting from the back of the grid tomorrow. The track conditions were fine and there was good grip, I think it will be similar conditions during the race. The Team did a great job and I’m confident that we made a good decision about how we set up the car. Looking ahead to tomorrow, it’s always tricky as naturally the midfield will be a bit closer but it will be important to go out there and score as many points as possible, we’ll do our very best. Hopefully we can have a fun race!

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