Hamilton urges Mercedes to 'capitalize' on Verstappen penalty

Lewis Hamilton is determined to focus on the job in hand this weekend and take advantage of the... The post Hamilton urges Mercedes to 'capitalize' on Verstappen penalty appeared first on F1i.com.

Hamilton urges Mercedes to 'capitalize' on Verstappen penalty

Lewis Hamilton is determined to focus on the job in hand this weekend and take advantage of the compromised situation that his chief title rival Max Verstappen is facing at the Russian GP.

Verstappen had already been facing a three-place grid drop as a result of his collision with Hamilton at Monza, and will now start from the back of the grid on Sunday after the team opted to a change of power unit components.

With Mercedes dominating both of Friday's practice sessions, it's a significant opportunity for Hamilton to revive his championship campaign and retake the lead of the drivers title battle.

“It’s a tough year I think for everyone with reliability," Hamilton noted after the end of FP2 when asked about Verstappen's penalty. "That’s definitely a shame for him.

“We’ve just got to do our thing and focus,” he continued. "We’ve got to try and capitalise on that, get a maximum result. A one-two would be spectacular for us as a team.”

Although he was edged by team mate Valtteri Bottas in both of today's sessions - by just 0.044s in FP2 - Hamilton wasn't worried about how the weekend was looking for him at this point. “It seems like we started off on the right foot,” he said. “We’re always trying to progress.

“The first run in the first session was the best," he continued. "We’ve been migrating and adjusting since. It’s not been as good as that one as you start to push more and more.

"But generally a good session pace-wise. We’ve got some work [to do], probably on the long run.”

Friday in Sochi proved to be an unusually tense and serious affair for all teams, with forecasts suggesting that adverse weather may disrupt tomorrow's final practice and qualifying sessions.

Qualifying could be forced over to Sunday morning, although it's also possible that the grid could be set by the final order on Friday.

“Tomorrow it’s going to be raining a lot, we heard," Hamilton acknowledged. "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 was relieved to hear that the front jack man working on his car was unhurt after he overshot the pit box coming in early in FP2.

"The overshooting was related to the ‘brake magic’ button. We’re looking into it," a team spokesperson said later.

The 'brake magic' device shifts up to 90 per cent of the brake bias to the front wheels and is typically used to aid tyre warm-up. It is not deployed during a race, although Hamilton did mistakenly activate it during a late restart in the Azerbaijan GP which caused him to spin out of the points.

A guard was fitted to the 'brake magic' button to avoid future unintended activation, but has apparently still proved a vulnerability to the car.

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Verstappen expects 'more difficult' race on Sunday

Max Verstappen has acknowledged that he faces an uphill battle on Sunday, after the team incurred a major... The post Verstappen expects 'more difficult' race on Sunday appeared first on F1i.com.

Verstappen expects 'more difficult' race on Sunday

Max Verstappen has acknowledged that he faces an uphill battle on Sunday, after the team incurred a major grid penalty for changing his power unit heading into the Russian Grand Prix.

As a result Verstappen will have to start the race from the back of the grid, after it was confirmed that he will be taking a full new set of engine components for the rest of the weekend..

Verstappen was third quickest in Friday morning's free practice, but had a subdued afternoon and was just sixth in the afternoon timesheets once the engine change was confirmed.

“We just tried to make the best possible race car for this weekend once we decided to take that engine,” he said after the end of FP2.

“But we have to take the penalty anyway. If we wouldn’t have taken it here we would have taken it somewhere else," he explained. "We thought we’ll decide to do it here and we’ll try to make the best of it in the race.”

©RedBull

Three years ago, Verstappen started the 2018 Russian GP from 19th place and managed to battle his way back to fifth by the finish, but he says it's unlikely a similar recovery will be possible this weekend.

“In 2018 the gaps to the midfield were a bit bigger,” he said. “Naturally it will be a bit more difficult to come though [this time]."

Complicating matters is a forecast of heavy wind and rain for Saturday which means that qualifying could be washed-out or moved to Sunday morning.

“I hope of course it’s going to work out, but tomorrow let’s first wait and see how the weather will be.”

Sochi is a traditional Mercedes stronghold, with the team unbeaten here in the modern hybrid era - another factor taken into account by Red Bull in making their decision to incur the grid penalty.

"Mercedes looks very strong here," Red Bull motorsports consultant Dr Helmut Marko told ORF. "That's why we decided to change the entire package.

"The weather also played a part in the decision to replace the engine now," he added.

Verstappen's team mate Sergio Perez also looked off the pace on Friday, finishing outside the top ten and more than a second slower than the Mercedes cars. However he remains optimistic for the weekend.

"There won’t be much running due to the rain, so today was probably the last chance we have to test the dry conditions before qualifying," he pointed out.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB16B. 24.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Russian Grand Prix, Sochi

"I think there is potential in the car for this weekend, we just have to make sure we get it right," he continued. "There are some set-up changes we might need to make to the car to suit the weather conditions come qualifying.

"I think my first and second sector looked good but there are some areas to improve in the third sector," he added. "But there are still a lot of interesting things to be analysed later on this evening.

"With Max starting from the back, it is going to be a bit of a challenge as a team," he conceded. "Obviously Mercedes are very strong around here.

"Hopefully we are able to put some pressure on them and qualify very close to them. That would be ideal.”

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