Max Verstappen feels fifth is the most realistic finish for him tomorrow as he starts at the back of the grid for the Russian Grand Prix due to engine penalties.
It was known at the start of the weekend that the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver would be taking a new Renault Sport power unit and thus starting at the back of the grid.
“We knew before qualifying that we would have to start from the back tomorrow, but I think it has all gone better than expected so far,” said Verstappen. “We did a good job in Q1 which I’m happy about.
“The car has felt good all weekend, except for this morning, when I had some troubles, but we managed to turn it around and we are competitive again.”
Red Bull have been surprisingly competitive at the Sochi Autodrom but Verstappen still believes that this is the best place for them to take their penalties.
“We are closer than expected, what we lose on the straights, we can definitely make up in the corners,” said the Dutchman. “Even though we had good pace today, I don’t think it’s too painful for us to take the penalty here.
“We needed a new engine anyway, so it’s good for upcoming races to take it now. The performance we had today shows again that we’ve worked very well on the set-up. From FP3 to qualifying we made some good steps forward so I’m confident about tomorrow.”
Verstappen is one of five drivers to have a grid penalty this weekend and knows if he is to make his way through the field, he’ll have to take care of the tyres.
“We just have to make sure that we have good exits out of the last few corners and keep our tyres alive, because the overtaking will not be easy on the tyres,” said Verstappen. “If you follow other cars closely, it’s hard on the front tyres, so we have to consider the best approach.
“You never know what can happen and we won’t stop fighting, but from where I’m starting, I think the most realistic birthday present will be fifth.”