The first day of on-track action at the Russian Grand Prix has come to an end and it has been two fairly regular sessions. In the first, many drivers lost braking points, so there were many tire lock-ups, as was the case with Lewis Hamilton at the end of the second DRS zone, where he lost the braking and was very few centimetres from colliding with the barrier. Many other riders spun, such as Alpha Tauri, Carlos Sainz and Nicholas Latifi, these both two ended up on the wall. During the first session, Max Verstappen managed to stay in P3 with a best lap time of 1:35.577 and 0.654 seconds slower than Valtteri Bottas (who finished in P1), in the afternoon session, he spun in the last sector and he struggled to find the right balance in his car, in consequence, he was able to stay in P7 with a best lap time of 1:35.048 but 1.529 seconds slower that the P1 Mercedes. In today’s press conference, Red Bull Racing’s team principal, Christian Horner, shared his thoughts about some talking points ahead of the Russian Grand Prix.
When Christian was asked if they think a podium is possible this weekend, as Red Bull has never had a podium in Sochi, he answered: “It’s been a bit of a bogey track for us over the last five years or so. I think Mercedes have won every single event here, so they are obviously very much the favourites for this race, yet anything can happen.” Christian Horner commented. “We’ve had a frustrating last couple of races and obviously we come here… we know it’s going to be more of a challenge, but hopefully we’ll survive the weekend and then there are some tracks coming up that hopefully play a little more to our strengths.”
When reviewing his first free practice session, Christian added: “They [the drivers] said the traffic is awful and that people don’t look into their mirrors. It’s a unique track here. It’s very short corners, 90-degree corners, it’s quite a challenge. But generally, they were reasonably settled.” Christian was also asked if Alex Albon’s phrase after his first podium ‘thanks for sticking with me’ was due to the vulnerability he was going through and his seat in the Austrian team. “He only feels vulnerable because you guys keep telling him every week that we should put someone else in the car. I think it was really good for him to get that result. Daniel [Ricciardo] is one of the hardest racers on the track and to pass him around the outside of Turn 1 as he did, it was a great performance form him. He has got the full support of all the team.”
Eddie Jordan made some interesting statements about Lewis Hamilton would be a good fit alongside Max next year, Christian Horner was asked about how he felt with these statements: “I wondered what Eddie had been drinking. Look, from a fan’s perspective he’s absolutely right, but I’ve not heard from Lewis recently, so I can only imagine he’s staying where he is. I think everyone wants to see Verstappen and Hamilton go head-to-head and hopefully we can give Max the tools to do that, certainly in the remaining races of this year but very much so next year and the year after.”
There have been some rumours going through social media which say that there is a clause in Max Verstappen’s contract that can be activated at the end of this season if the Dutchman want to leave the team, Christian Horner commented regarding this topic: “Well, obviously the contract between the driver and the team is always going to be confidential, there will always be speculation regarding it but I’m a hundred percent certain Max Verstappen will be in a Red Bull racing car next year.”
These were some thoughts Christian Horner expressed in today’s press conference, this is not a Red Bull track so it is not very likely to see neither Max Verstappen nor Alex Albon fighting for pole position or race victory, but this is Formula 1 and anything can happen.