Honda F1 Russian Grand-Prix race notes and quotes

Honda F1 Russian Grand-Prix race notes and quotes

29.09.2019: A challenging Russian Grand Prix saw all four Honda-powered cars in the mix for points and a solid return as Aston Martin Red Bull Racing secured a double top-five finish. The race was always going to be tough as a result of our starting positions

 
A challenging Russian Grand Prix saw all four Honda-powered cars in the mix for points and a solid return as Aston Martin Red Bull Racing secured a double top-five finish.
 



The race was always going to be tough as a result of our starting positions as Max lined up in ninth place and Pierre 16th, while Daniil started from the back of the grid. Alex was then forced to start from the pit lane due to his floor specification changing between qualifying and the race as result of his crash in Q1 yesterday. All four drivers made good starts as contact in the midfield led to a Safety Car, with Max running eighth when the race restarted and Pierre and Daniil up to 12th and 13th respectively.



Max then made solid progress once racing resumed, overtaking Sergio Perez, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz to run fifth in the opening stint, while Alex was also climbing through the field after starting on medium tyres and moved ahead of the Toro Rosso pair. Pierre was unfortunate with pit stop timing as he had just made his stop to switch from mediums to softs on lap 26 when Sebastian Vettel retired to bring out the Virtual Safety Car (VSC).



Daniil had started on the hard tyre in order to run long but he then had to take the opportunity to switch to softs under the VSC, while Max took on mediums and Alex stayed out to gain more positions. As soon as the race restarted, a crash for George Russell on lap 29 resulted in a full Safety Car, so Alex pitted for softs and Daniil also took on a fresh pair of softs as he had plenty available after not taking part in qualifying.



With so many other drivers also benefiting from a free pit stop at that stage, Pierre and Daniil were left outside the top ten and without a strategic advantage, but still fought hard for positions - often against each other - as Daniil ended up just 2.5 seconds outside the points in 12th and Pierre crossed the line 14th. Max stayed in touch with the top three for a number of laps before bringing the car home in fourth place and Alex joined him in the top five with an excellent late charge on soft tyres, dispatching a number of cars to finish fifth.



Everyone in the Honda team was shocked when Honda driver Nobuharu Matsushita had a heavy crash on the opening lap of this morning’s F2 race. The Japanese driver and the Russian Nikita Mazepin were both taken to hospital for checks. Mazepin was fine and Matsushita has no serious injuries, but will stay under observation in hospital here in Sochi for 24 hours.
 
 


 
Toyoharu Tanabe
Technical Director, Honda Racing F1   



“Despite a penalty dropping him to ninth on the grid, Verstappen managed to move up to fourth at the finish, producing some good overtaking moves on the way. After starting from pit lane as a result of his qualifying crash, Albon also drove aggressively, especially in the closing stages to finish behind his team-mate in fifth. This was the best we could expect today given our performance level and our starting positions.



 Gasly was unlucky, as he made his scheduled pit stop just before the Virtual Safety Car, while others got a “free” stop. Kvyat had to fight hard to come from the back row to 12th. Overall, we had a few PU related issues and we will now analyse everything very carefully to prepare as well as possible for our home race in Suzuka in two weeks time.”
 
 



Pierre Gasly
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda    Race : 14th



“It was a pretty challenging day for us. We didn’t have the pace to fight for points today, I tried to do everything I could inside the cockpit but there wasn’t much we could do. I had a good fight with Dany as you always have to try to fight for positions. At the time, I was pushing for P12, a position that allows you to think that something can always happen in front of you and you can finish in P10.



I tried to do what I could, but we didn’t have enough speed, so it was a tricky day. As today we underperformed compared to what we showed earlier this weekend, we now need to analyse and understand why to come back with better pace in Suzuka.”
 
 



Daniil Kvyat
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda    Race : 12th



“I had a strong and competitive race today. It was a good effort from the team to start from the back of the grid and finish very close to the points. I had a good start and some enjoyable battles, I was really fighting until the very last lap, so I’m happy with my race. It was a good Sunday in the end, especially considering the problems we had in the previous days. It’s just a shame not to get the reward…the team would have deserved it.”
 
 
Alexander Albon
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing    Race : 5th


“It was a good race and I think P5 is the best we could have done. I wanted to bounce back and get a good result after yesterday’s crash so I’m really happy with how the race went, although we probably got a bit lucky with the Safety Car. Morale was obviously a little bit low on Saturday night and it was a lot of work for the Team so this result is for them.



Starting from the pit lane was never going to be easy but the pace was quite strong on the softs and it was a good haul of points. I started out of position and had some fun coming back through the field, but I don’t want all of my races to be like that. I like boring races too so I’m hoping for a cleaner and smoother weekend in Japan. In the first stint I was struggling to get past Daniil and Pierre and it took me a long time.



The downforce loss is immense when you’re following in a train of cars which I think is because the track is designed a bit like a street circuit. Up to the race it had been a tough weekend but I’m getting more comfortable. I just need to get up to speed and in a rhythm earlier on in the weekend, but that will come with more laps and time in the car. With the exception of Abu Dhabi, all of the remaining tracks will be new for me so Suzuka will be difficult, but I like new tracks.”
 
 



Max Verstappen
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing    Race : 4th




“I think P4 was the best possible result today and we had a little bit of luck with Seb retiring, but I’m satisfied with the points we scored considering the penalties and pace of Ferrari and Mercedes. There wasn’t too much going on for me once I cleared the mid-field traffic and from there I had a bit of a lonely race until the Safety Car closed us all up. We were clearly a bit slower than the top three today but at the end of the race it was also more difficult being on the medium compound tyre when the others were on the soft.



For sure we maximised the result but of course we want to be scoring more podiums and victories so we still have work to do as the others are very strong. Now I’m looking forward to Suzuka and we want to do the best we can for all the Japanese fans at Honda’s home race.”
 
 

          


- Honda - photos Red Bull


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29.09.2019 / MaP

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