Max Verstappen salvages points at disappointing Russian race
Fifth place for Max Verstappen was as good as Red Bull Racing could have hoped for after a tough weekend at the Russian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman finished best of the rest in an uneventful race at the Sochi circuit behind the Ferrari and Mercedes cars. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo suffered an early brake failure, eliminating him from the race early on.
Ricciardo was quick off the line from his fifth place grid slot, but he has hung out to dry by a slow Lewis Hamilton at Turn 2 and was forced wide, allowing Verstappen and Williams' Felipe Massa past. But his race wouldn't last much longer as his rear brakes caught fire, forcing him into early retirement.
"I looked in my mirror to see where the Force India was and I noticed that the right rear brake was on fire," he said. "I reported it to the team and they told me to bring the car back to the pits slowly. Unfortunately the issue could not be fixed and I had to retire from the race. It was early in the race so I don’t know how much the safety car and two starts impacted us but the team will obviously investigate that.
"It’s frustrating, on a Sunday you just build up for the race and try to store up your adrenaline to use at 3pm but today it was over very quickly and unfortunately I didn’t get as much of a fight as I would have liked."
Verstappen meanwhile capitalised on Ricciardo's tough start and ran for the most of the race in a distant fifth place, untroubled by Massa but unable to make any head-way in the gap to Lewis Hamilton ahead.
With a host of new chassis developments expected from Tilbrook for the next race - the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona in two weeks - Verstappen is keen to see if the modifications can help them get back into a battle with the runaway leaders.
He said: "We maximised the opportunities we had so now we can look forward to Barcelona, the upgrades are coming and we can hopefully start to get involved in the fight at the front.
Barcelona is obviously a very special track for me following last year’s race so I am excited to return and see what we can do.”