Free Practice 2
F1 2021
Round 15

A Productive Practice Day In Russia For Honda Power #F1

ru Sochi Autodrom

Both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri showed some strong pace on a particularly strategic Friday in Russia.

A Productive Practice Day In Russia For Honda Power #F1

With a weather forecast that suggests Saturday will be heavily impacted by rain, teams took different approaches to usual in Friday practice with some low fuel running on soft tyres in the first session.

Max ended up third and just 0.2s off top spot in FP1, while Pierre joined him in the top six and Sergio made it three cars in the top ten with the ninth fastest time. Yuki also enjoyed a productive session, completing the most mileage of any driver as he built up his F1 experience at the Sochi circuit.

Ahead of FP2 we took the decision - along with Red Bull - to change the power unit in Max’s car. Damage sustained in the heavy crash at Silverstone meant a new power unit was always going to be required at some stage, and with a three-place grid penalty already hanging over him and Saturday’s weather forecast, the strategic call was made in time for the second session.

That allowed Max to calibrate the new PU in dry conditions, and he ended up sixth overall behind Pierre in an impressive third. The only concern from the Frenchman’s session came when he hit the kerbs at Turn 2 and lost the front wing, but he was able to return to the pits without further drama.

Sergio was 11th and Yuki 18th in FP2, with both completing strong mileage and giving us plenty of data to work with in case there is no further dry weather running on Saturday.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
We had a relatively straightforward day with both teams and all four cars got through their planned programme. Following the damage to Max’s PU at the British GP, we knew we would have to introduce a fourth one at some point this season on his car. Taking into account all the factors affecting this weekend, we and the team therefore decided to introduce the new PU here and we fitted it in time for FP2. It means Max will start from the back of the grid on Sunday. Tomorrow rain is expected and, based on today’s data we will now carry out simulations for all possible scenarios.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s been a positive day in terms of performance, this car seems to be working well here so far and it’s a good start going into the weekend. Whilst the performance is there, I’m not 100% comfortable with the balance inside the car yet so we’ve got a few things that we can take away and improve tonight. We know both Charles and Max are taking penalties for the race, so there are definitely some opportunities for us this weekend. Our main focus though is on our own package and maximising what we can do to help in our tight midfield battle.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
We thought it would be best to take the engine penalty here in Russia, we took everything into account before making the decision and we of course considered the weather for tomorrow. We had to take the penalty at some point so if we didn’t take it here, we would have taken it somewhere else. As for the set up, we are trying to make the best possible race car for this weekend despite starting from the back of the grid. I hope it’s going to work out and we will try to make the best of it during the race on Sunday, for now let’s wait and see what the weather will be like tomorrow.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I think we have some good information going into qualifying tomorrow, when there won’t be much running due to the rain, so today was probably the last chance we have to test the dry conditions before qualifying. I think there is potential in the car for this weekend, we just have to make sure we get it right. I think my first and second sector looked good but there are some areas to improve in the third sector. There are some set-up changes we might need to make to the car to suit the weather conditions come qualifying but there are still a lot of interesting things to be analysed later on this evening. With Max starting from the back, it is going to be a bit of a challenge as a Team and obviously Mercedes are very strong around here but hopefully we are able to put some pressure on them and qualify very close to them, that would be ideal.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I’ve struggled with the general grip here so far in Sochi, but I’ve managed to gain important mileage in the car today, particularly for Sunday, as we think the race may be sunny. We know the performance is there in the car so I just need to go away tonight, look at the data and see how I can improve for tomorrow. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather, so we just need to be as prepared as possible going into FP3 and Qualifying.

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