Max Verstappen says he does not rue his five-place grid penalty at the Russian Grand Prix despite setting the pace during Friday practice.
Honda has opted to take new power units in all four of its cars in Sochi, ensuring it will have fresh units for its home race at Suzuka and ideally buffering itself from mileage problems later in the season. After not being as competitive as expected in Singapore last weekend, Red Bull’s early advantage in Russia is somewhat surprising, but Verstappen said Sochi is a circuit where he can still make the most of the car’s performance even with a grid penalty.
“Especially after our difficult weekend in Singapore, I think we worked and understand, trying to understand what went wrong,” Verstappen said. “I think so far this weekend has been pretty positive.
“We’ll take the penalty after qualifying, of course. We’ll still do our normal qualifying. I’m not too disappointed about the penalty. You can overtake around here. If you are fast, you will get to the front.
“It’s not (bittersweet) at all. I think if you are quick you can still pass people, but it’s always difficult to judge to take a penalty. If I would have thought that Singapore would be that difficult [we] might have taken it there, it’s just a question mark as to what went wrong there. So far so good. It’s only five places so it’s not that bad.”
The weather forecast suggests qualifying could take place on a wet track, but Verstappen is equally happy regardless of the conditions after the work done on Friday.
“Hopefully the car will work in the wet,” he said. “Today has been positive, so hopefully the same tomorrow.
“It was a bit of a weird weekend in Singapore with what went wrong, so we came here and the car is working very well. The last sector has been very good, but even the first one, you have the long straight, Turn 3 is flat-out and basically also a straight, and we are still competitive. So it was a positive day. We tried quite a few things with the car and it seems to work.”