The Red Bull driver will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid after installing a new power unit in his car.
Mercedes, according to Lewis Hamilton, must seize the opportunity presented by Max Verstappen’s grid penalty at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid after installing a new power unit in his car, which meant he used more parts than he was allowed to. Hamilton, who is five points behind Verstappen at the top of the championship standings, said the news “doesn’t really change anything for us,” but admitted it provided him with a valuable opportunity.
“We’ve just got to do our thing and focus,” the seven-time world champion said. “It’s a tough year, I think, for everyone with reliability. That’s definitely a shame for him. But we’ve got to try and capitalize on that, get a maximum result. A one-two would be spectacular for us as a team,” he added.
Mercedes led both practice sessions at the Sochi Autodrom on Friday. Hamilton, who trailed teammate Valtteri Bottas in both sessions, revealed the pair were using different car setups. “It seems like we started off on the right foot,” Hamilton said. “We’re always trying to progress. The first run in the first session was the best. We’ve been migrating and adjusting since and it’s not been as good as that one as you start to push more and more, I guess. But generally a good session pace-wise. We’ve got some work [to do] probably in the long run,” he added.
There is a forecast of heavy rain on Saturday which could very well hamper qualifying. Rain has played spoilsport once in the 2021 F1 season. It was the first race after the summer break. The Belgian GP was supposed to be a massive spectacle but relentless rain ruined the race. Even if the Russian GP is not cancelled, it takes incredible skill to control a Formula One car on a wet track. The good thing is that the forecast for Sunday is a dry one.
“Tomorrow it’s going to be raining a lot, we heard. It’s going to be a big wet day tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see what we do in terms of set-up for that, knowing that potentially Sunday is dry,” Hamilton said.
The 2021 Formula One championship was on a knife-edge heading into the Italian Grand Prix. The reigning champion, Lewis Hamilton, was three points behind Max Verstappen. Valterri Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate, won the sprint race just before the main race. Max Verstappen won the pole position, extending his lead to five points. However, on race day, everything fell apart for both championship contenders.
Hamilton and Verstappen were side-by-side on the sausage curve in Turn 1 on lap 26 of 53. Verstappen was barreling down the straight as Hamilton was coming out of the pitlane. Verstappen was launched off the curve at the turn due to a lack of space. He collided with Hamilton, taking both championship contenders out of the race. This freed up the other drivers to compete for glory in Monza. Daniel Ricciardo, driving for McLaren Mercedes, eventually won his first race since 2018. To cap off a fantastic day for McLaren, Lando Norris finished second, giving the team a historic 1-2 finish.