First day on track for the Russian GP Mercedes seems to have what it takes to lead the weekend. Today’s free practice sessions both ended with the silver arrows at the top of the time-sheet and if the only one standing in front of Lewis Hamilton is his teammate, Verstappen is struggling a bit. The Dutch driver ended FP1 in 3rd place and FP2 in 6th. Between the two sessions Red Bull announced a Power Unit substitution for him.
“We had to take the penalty at some point so if we didn’t take it here, we would have taken it somewhere else,” said Verstappen.
Here in Sochi he was supposed to serve a three-place grid penalty for the collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Italian GP, while the PU change means he will be starting Sunday’s race from the back of the grid.
"We thought it would be best to take the engine penalty here in Russia, we took everything into account and we of course considered the weather for tomorrow," he explained.
Weather conditions already forced Formula 3 to change its calendar and anticipate Race 1 to this afternoon. Heavy rain is expected for tomorrow, hence as of now the possibilities of postponing qualifying until Sunday morning or using FP2 classification order for the starting grid cannot be ruled out.
BREAKING: Race 1 has been rescheduled for today at 17:25 local time (+3 UTC)— Formula 3 (@FIAFormula3) September 24, 2021
Originally planned for Saturday morning, the decision was made due to an uncertain weather forecast#RussianGP #F3 pic.twitter.com/KUqyBTjyZ9
"There won’t be much running due to the rain tomorrow, so today was probably the last chance we have to test the dry conditions before qualifying," commented Sergio Perez.
The Mexican finished Friday practice sessions respectively in P9 and P11. Nonetheless he is convinced the RB16B is not looking so bad running on the asphalt of the Sochi Autodrom.
“I think there is potential in the car for this weekend, we just have to make sure we get it right.”