F1 2021
Round 15

Max Takes P2 From The Back Of The Grid In Russia

ru Sochi Autodrom

A dramatic Russian Grand Prix saw Max secure a sensational second place from 20th on the grid as rain hit the track in the closing stages.

Max Takes P2 From The Back Of The Grid In Russia

After the rain-hit qualifying session left a mixed-up grid but allowed a free choice of tyre, Sergio in ninth started on hard tyres, with Pierre in 11th and Max in 20th doing the same.

Yuki started on the mediums from 12th, but lost ground early on after going wide at Turn 2. The Red Bull Racing pair started making progress instantly, with Sergio passing Fernando Alonso for seventh place on lap three, and Max climbing three places on the opening lap before rising to 15th by Lap 4.

A great move from Max cleared Valtteri Bottas into Turn 12 a lap later and he then took 13th position from Pierre at the same corner. Max’s excellent drive continued when he took advantage of a battle ahead to pass Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel by Lap 13, with Yuki then making his first pit stop to switch to hard tyres.

As more pit stops took place, Max was promoted to sixth two laps later, with Sergio in fourth and showing strong pace.

By the halfway stage, Max was starting to struggle with his tyres in traffic and so he stopped on Lap 26 to switch to mediums, mirroring Lewis Hamilton’s stop ahead of him. That released Sergio who continued for a number of laps and rose into the lead.

Pierre came in from sixth place for his first stop - switching to medium tyres - on Lap 33, while Sergio came in three laps later and looked set to mount a podium challenge. However, a slow stop cost him nearly nine seconds and dropped him back to fifth place.

Faced with a long stint on medium tyres, Max had to judge his pace and dropped to seventh but was still on for good points before rain started falling and led to a chaotic finish. Max was the first of the Honda-powered drivers to call for intermediate tyres with five laps remaining, having just overtaken Carlos Sainz on the greasy track.

It was the right call, but unfortunately for Yuki he had opted for softs at the same time and then needed to stop again two laps later for inters. Max showed the benefit by charging through the field from seventh to be third one lap later, and with Lando Norris trying to stay out in the lead on slicks, heavy rain forced the McLaren into the pits right at the end to promote Max to a stunning second place.

Sergio was less fortunate, having climbed to third ahead of Sainz before the rain. He stopped two laps after Max and dropped to ninth place at the flag, while Pierre was another to try and stay out on slicks having climbed into the points but eventually had to pit and was classified 13th, four places ahead of Yuki.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
This was an exciting race with a chaotic finish when the rain came in the final laps. Max had already made up several places, after starting from 20th on the grid and then he and Red Bull Racing made just the right strategy call to bring him for rain tyres, which allowed him to pass more cars and finish second. That’s a very positive result for the championship, considering we took a PU penalty and had to start from the back row, because although Hamilton has retaken the lead, he is only two points in front. Checo did a very good job of managing his tyres in a long first stint and had a really good race, but he was unlucky to be caught out by the heavier rainfall and dropped to ninth. The two Scuderia AlphaTauri drivers were unable to make up places, stuck in a DRS train and it is somewhat disappointing therefore that they were unable to score any points. There are still seven races to go and it will be a tough battle for the championship, but for now, we are just focussing on the next race in Turkey.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
Wow, we will definitely take that result! Of course to come from last to second is very good and when I woke up this morning I definitely didn’t expect this result. To finish where we did with the penalty we had, we didn’t lose as many points as we could have so as a Team we did a really good job. It was a crucial call to change to the inters, it was really slippery on track and we made a great decision with the timing and took the right lap to pit. A lot of things can happen when you’re starting from the back of the grid, especially on the first lap when other cars are fighting each other, but we stayed out of trouble, kept it clean, and managed our race very well. The race itself was not very easy, it was difficult to pass other cars and once you got stuck it was easy to damage your tyres but luckily in the end the rain helped us make the last jump in positions.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
We were on for a podium today so I decided to take the risk in staying out on the slicks instead of pitting for inters. In the first and third sector it was pretty dry and you could get temperature into the tyres, so if it then dried up those of us on the slicks would have made it work and those on the inters would have seen their race destroyed. In hindsight the slick wasn’t the right tyre and ultimately the timing of the rain in the race meant some people got lucky today and others didn’t. We were on for a great result with a podium through pure merit and despite a slow pit stop we still managed to come through the field to third but sometimes this is how racing is. The issue with the stop wasn’t a human error and I spoke with my pit crew after the race to check they were okay because we’re obviously all disappointed. As a Team we still walk away with a lot of points today and yes, it is frustrating for me, but I feel like I got so much out of the car which is only promising going to Turkey in two weeks’ time.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s not been a great weekend for us really, we missed a big opportunity yesterday in Qualifying and again today we made the wrong decision with the slicks, which unfortunately means we finished out of the points. The pace was strong here and I think we had a good first stint, but we just didn’t utilise all the opportunities given to us this weekend, which is a real shame. We need to review everything from today and work out how we make the most out of these conditions in the future. It’s a weekend to forget, but we’ve got a good team and I’m confident we can bounce back at the next one.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s obviously a disappointing day. I’ve struggled with the balance of the car all weekend and it was the same today in the race, especially on the first lap where it was hard to keep it on the track. I just need to reset after this weekend and work on my baseline performance, so I can start finishing in the points again.

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