Sat. Oct 16th, 2021


Perfect start to Sochi weekend for Mercedes as Valtteri Bottas leads another one-two ahead of Lewis Hamilton; Max Verstappen only sixth, and he will start Sunday’s race at the back as Red Bull take new engine; Antonio Giovinazzi brings out red flag with crash

Last Updated: 24/09/21 2:14pm


Mercedes hold all the early momentum at the Russian GP after Valtteri Bottas secured another one-two ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second practice, while championship leader Max Verstappen’s new engine and back-of-the-grid start for Sunday’s race was confirmed.

Red Bull had been deliberating over whether or not to take a Sochi engine penalty on top of Verstappen’s three-place grid penalty for his Italian GP crash with Hamilton – and opted to pull the trigger by fitting him with a fourth Honda Power Unit for Friday’s afternoon session.

News of his back-of-the-grid start was then confirmed during Practice Two, just as Mercedes stamped home their early advantage around a Sochi circuit where they have won every race since 2014.

Bottas, just like P1, was the fastest Silver Arrow, although this time only 0.044s ahead of Mercedes’ number 44 Hamilton, who has a great chance to take back the title lead this weekend with Verstappen on the back foot.

Verstappen was an alarming 1s adrift on the qualifying simulations, before Antonio Giovinazzi brought out a red flag during the long runs by spinning and crashing his Alfa Romeo into the barriers at Turn 8.

Antonio Giovinazzi understeered at Turn 8, spins and then slams backwards into the barriers.

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Antonio Giovinazzi understeered at Turn 8, spins and then slams backwards into the barriers.

Antonio Giovinazzi understeered at Turn 8, spins and then slams backwards into the barriers.

To add more intrigue to a news-heavy weekend, there are expected to be heavy downpours throughout Saturday’s qualifying day, with the shootout set to be live on Sky Sports F1 at 1pm.

F1 are keeping a keen eye on the forecast in case the session needs to be moved, and if it can’t take place at all the grid for Sunday would be set by the final order in second practice.

Mercedes therefore are in the perfect position, although they were challenged closely in P2 by Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri.

Lewis Hamilton sends his front jack man flying after leaving the brake magic button that caused him a problem on the Baku restart on.

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Lewis Hamilton sends his front jack man flying after leaving the brake magic button that caused him a problem on the Baku restart on.

Lewis Hamilton sends his front jack man flying after leaving the brake magic button that caused him a problem on the Baku restart on.

Gasly was just 0.2s adrift, with Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon the next closest challengers.

Sergio Perez finished down in 11th in the Red Bull, who will be relying on the Mexican to perform come Sunday with Verstappen consigned to the back.

More to follow.





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