Alex Albon will start the Russian Grand Prix from 15th place and Nicholas Latifi the back of the grid after both needed new gearboxes.
Changing a gearbox before six consecutive events have been completed comes with an automatic five-place grid penalty, and both Red Bull and Williams have had to do so ahead of Sunday’s race. Albon had originally qualified in 10th place but on Saturday afternoon admitted he was perplexed by the 1.2-second gap to his teammate Max Verstappen, who is second on the grid.
“It didn’t feel terrible in Q1 and Q2, and it just seemed like people around made a jump,” Albon said. “I didn’t really have it, didn’t feel like I had much left, to be honest. A bit of head scratching going because the laps didn’t feel terrible. Of course, there are still a couple of tenths to find here and there, but obviously the gap is quite big. So a bit confusing and some work to do.”
The penalty drops Albon to 15th place but he still has to start the race on the soft tires he qualified on in Q2 as he advanced to Q3.
For Latifi, Williams says it discovered a problem with his gearbox “following a data inspection post-qualifying,” with the Canadian rookie only dropping one position on the grid having originally qualified in 19th place.