Verstappen expects midfield fight as Red Bull's Sochi woes continue

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Max Verstappen is anticipating a battle with the likes of Renault and others for third after a tricky Friday at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman ended practice just seventh-fastest behind Daniel Ricciardo, both McLarens and Sergio Perez after failing to produce a clean lap on the soft compound tyres.

However, rather than being a case of just putting a lap together, Verstappen admits Red Bull, who have never stood on the podium in Sochi, is facing a weekend of looking at those around them rather than just Mercedes ahead.

"It’s never been an amazing weekend for us in terms of competitiveness so I don’t expect any miracles so of course there’s a lot of long straights and 90-degree corners which are very short corners so you can’t make a massive difference,” he said.

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“It will be tough in qualifying I think to be in P3 but in the race, it looks a bit more competitive so I am happy about that but there’s still a bit of work to do to make sure that we are P3.

“Clearly I think Renault so far today they have been very competitive and you never know who else," he added. "But I think first of all we have to look at ourselves and make the right trade-off with downforce levels as well and make sure the car is stable, and then I’d be quite confident that quali will be tight but we will be in the fight.”

For Max, simply finishing will mark an improvement on the last two races where engine issues forced him to retire.

Ver Crash

And while Honda says countermeasures are now in place to avoid a repeat of the same problem Verstappen had, the 22-year-old admits the proof will come on track.

“What was more important at the time was to understand the problems so we can solve them because at the moment we had three retirements in nine races so it’s not very lovely,'' he said. “We just try and work on that, and try to make sure it’s not happening again.

“I mean they [Honda] explained a lot to me so hopefully it won’t happen again but at the moment we can speculate about it - It’s about time we show it on track.”