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Should he start from the back in Sochi?

Should he start from the back in Sochi?

( – Max Verstappen, it’s no secret, he will change his engine again this year and will have to accept a return to the end of the grid. But it is not yet clear where this engine change will take place. And while the upcoming race weekend in Sochi (click here: schedule and info for the F1 live ticker) appears pre-planned for this, the decision to take the grid penalty is by no means firm.

Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko speaks with Max Verstappen


From the outside, there is a lot to be said about the Russian Grand Prix. Even Helmut Marko admits Sochi has been a “clearly Mercedes track” in recent years. Winning There is no sure success even without the engine penalty. And in order to become “the best of the rest” or at least make it into the top five, Red Bull can reach speed even from the last place on the grid.

Verstappen should go three places back anyway, due to a penalty for his collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. But: “We will look at how general the speed will be compared to Mercedes. Then we have to direct the strategy on our part”, explains Marko in one Interview with RTL.

“Of course, we are limited in the engine side. We have to change the engine at some point in the following races due to the damage done to Silverstone. But it does not have to be in the race in Sochi. That means we will have to wait to qualify, wait for the weather conditions – and then decide.”

Because as of today it is very likely that it will rain in Sochi. On the other hand, it may be easier to catch up on wet roads in the rain. On the other hand, Verstappen once again on the field will have to accept field spray and poor visibility.

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In the end, Marko explains, the decision depends on “the overall picture of the opportunity to overtake,” in other words: If it becomes clear that Verstappen can start from the back and still drive to the highest position, you’ll likely change the engine and pull the fourth engine into the puddle to be able Going through the rest of the season without more ingredient swaps.

The penalty he takes away from Monza is “not perfect”, as Verstappen himself says of his starting position. But he did not let that discourage him: “Nothing is lost yet. That’s what I see. As far as the world championship is concerned, there are still many races to go to. The gap is small. We will try to make the most of it and work with it, what we have” .

Sochi is “a completely different path from Monza”, says the World Cup captain: “I finished second here last year, but it wasn’t a good path for us as a team.” However, Marko thinks that could be different in 2021, “because we’ve absorbed a lot this year and have been competitive in almost all of the courses”.