Verstappen’s penalty “not such a handicap” at Sochi – Horner

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In the round-up: Max Verstappen’s penalty for colliding with Lewis Hamilton won’t compromise him too greatly at the next race, says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

In brief

Verstappen penalty softer in Sochi

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has played down the likely impact of the three-place grid penalty Verstappen was given as the long run to the first braking zone at Sochi makes it easier for drivers to gain places.

“We have the grid penalty to take for Max,” Horner told Red Bull’s website, “but in Sochi it’s not such a handicap because of the strength of the tow down to turn [two].”

Horner also revealed the team’s slow pit stop which dropped Verstappen behind Hamilton was linked to a recent update to the rules introduced by the FIA.

“There was a rare human error in our pit stop, as a result of the new technical directive but nonetheless something we need to learn from,” said Horner.

Latifi “getting much closer” to Russell

Nicholas Latifi says he’s closed the gap to his Mercedes-bound team mate George Russell over their second season as team mates at Williams.

Last week Latifi started the grand prix ahead of Russell, having gained a place from his team mate in the sprint qualifying race, but dropped behind him during the race. Russell came home ninth, two places ahead of his team mate.

Latifi described the latest round was “much more of a like-for-like in terms of being on-track, sharing the same space on-track for a lot of the race.”

“I know I’m getting much closer, I know in certain instances I could be ahead of [him]. It’s just really putting it all together.

“Especially in the races, when you’re ahead and you stay ahead up until the first stint then everything naturally becomes much easier for you because you get your priority with the pit stop, you don’t suffer as much battling behind.

“So it all obviously stems from qualifying in the end. I was able to get ahead of George in the sprint quali and that makes it easier. But I think the improvements are coming.”

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Comment of the day

What do you make of the plans for next year’s calendar revealed here yesterday?

In general, I like this calendar, as from a fan’s point of view, more races can only be a good thing. However, I’m not sure the teams would say the same, and if it is clear that the three triple headers are too much for them, the calendar should be reduced again for 2023.

My main disappointment with this calendar is not having Albert Park as the opening round. There is something particularly special about getting up in the early hours to watch the first grand prix of the season, and it wasn’t quite the same with Bahrain as the first race this season.

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On this day in motorsport

  • 50 years ago today Jackie Stewart won a rain-shortened Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport after a scrap with Ronnie Peterson, which ended when the March driver collided with a backmarker. Behind them Mark Donohue impressed with third on his debut.

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45 comments on “Verstappen’s penalty “not such a handicap” at Sochi – Horner”

  1. I think Latifi is a bit better than we give him credit for, but I also think Russell is somewhat over rated by a few. He has some very obvious weaknesses which I mention further below.

    I think Latifi was really unlucky on race day last time out. He got into 10th on merit due to a good start while his team mate was in 14th. Russell did gain a few, but mostly due to others pitting and was 5 seconds behind Latifi when Latifi pitted. Yes, he was only 1 place behind him but that was mostly because those ahead of him had pitted. Russell then pitted during the safety car and was aided by the clash between Verstappen and Hamilton.

    The strange thing is that both races (that we can call races) where williams scored points, Latifi actually put in the better performance on both occasions. Is this just a coincidence?

    Anyway, I do think Latifi is good enough to deserve to stay actually. But I also think Russell is slightly over rated. He still has far too many bad starts to races which sort of undoes his great qualifying record. I think he will need to reduce the amount of times he loses positions on lap one when he’s at Mercedes. There have been several races this season and the previous where he’s had a bad launch and spent a huge number of laps stuck behind his slower team mate. Even in his first season with Kubica, Kubica was ahead of him by the end of lap 1 in over half the races. He unfortunately doesn’t seem to be improving much in this area and possibly has an issue with tyre preparation or something on the warm up lap.

    With the cars changing next season though, he could well get over this issue.

    1. @thegianthogweed

      The strange thing is that both races (that we can call races) where williams scored points, Latifi actually put in the better performance on both occasions. Is this just a coincidence?

      Latifi’s pace in Hungary was not really good though, specially in the final part of the race when Russell catched up with him after lagging behind the start and offering himself to strategically help his team-mate ahead. In Monza, similar story to a lesser extent, as Latifi in free air was losing contact after being overtaken by Ocon (even before Vettel cleared Kubica and closed in Latifi) while Russell was challenging Alonso further up the road after the restart. So he’s improving his race pace, but Russell remains clearly better than him on that department, not only in one-lap pace. But Latifi is considerably better than Russell in start launches, an aspect of his game in which the latter needs to focus on if he really wants to consistently apply pressure on Hamilton for next season at Mercedes.

      1. @rodewulf

        I am aware Latifi’s pace didn’t look great at the end of Hungary. he thought he had a problem though I’m not sure. However, it on both weekends I mentioned related to Latyfi having a good start or the opposite for russell that resulted in Latifi getting (or would have got) the better result. In Italy, it was down to the safety car that gained Russell time and gave him a free pit stop, While Latifi had literally stopped just before it. On both instances, I wouldn’t argue if some think Russell had better pace, but I think latifi overall outperformed him on both occasions.

    2. “Russell is overrated in races” hence why in equal machinery(well, we say equal to maintain the bs that hamilton is an all time great) he caught up to bottas over and over in a car he never drove before

      1. There are too many people that base one performance to decide everything else. Virtually everyone said Bottas was poor that weekend, and I think I agree with that. The pace difference on race day was hardly anything. Russell got a better launch and slightly better pace early on, but it seemed to be forgotten that Bottas was catching before all the chaos happened. Also remember that when Russell put in that very good overtake was after Bottas had pushed hard on his tyred, then had a 30 second pit stop with his wheels rolling around the pit lane, breaks on fire and then the same tyres put back on. The rest of the race can’t be judged. It also should be noted that this was the shortest and simplest one off track there has been in recent years.

        The one good thing we can say is that he adapted quickly. But as it is one performance, you could do the same with Bottas and Hamilton and say that this last weekend clearly shows Bottas is the better driver at Mercedes. One weekend doesn’t show everything.

        1. @thegianthogweed

          The one good thing we can say is that he adapted quickly. But as it is one performance, you could do the same with Bottas and Hamilton and say that this last weekend clearly shows Bottas is the better driver at Mercedes. One weekend doesn’t show everything.

          Yes, George himself said he was giving the maximum he could but felt very uncomfortable while driving, so this one-off appearance is not very representative despite very encouraging. He did well given the circustances, but it’s easy to either glorify too much that specific performance for Mercedes or, on the other hand, treat it dismissively by saying “he hardly managed to match Bottas in a bad day”. One can expect at least 4-5 races for him to feel at ease with the Mercedes car, but it doesn’t mean he can’t challenge Hamilton even before that should the latter be caught napping around.

    3. I still can’t see him staying for 2023.

  2. Quick heads up! If you are not already, head to youtube and watch the GOODWOOD REVIVAL, best racing you’ll see all year. It’s on live and repeated o’night so doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in.

    1. Good shout – if you ever get the opportunity to go then you should by all means. It’s an amazing collection of cars and the racing is generally pretty ferocious despite the eye watering value of the machinery. It’s better than the festival of speed, in my opinion, because it’s a proper circuit (though both are great events).

      1. @frood19, If I lived in the UK I’d be there every day every year.

    2. @hohum


      Sweet, the 30’s car race was nice to watch. Priceless and dangerous cars and they still went at it sliding and almost hitting backmarkers.

      1. RainiersBodyshop
        19th September 2021, 18:45

        Monaco almost broke me this year.

      2. @balue One year I watched Barry sheene and co absolutely nailing it on a damp track on some very old bikes and it made me reassess what motorsport really was.

  3. Of course it wont be that much of a handicap to RB, on top of what Horner said and especially if Sochi was possibly one of the scheduled tracks to introduce a new PU for VER.

    It will be interesting to see how the whole race goes.

    Happy for Latifi and good for F1 that both drivers at Williams has improved and making contributions to the racing compared the dark days just a few season ago, pretty remarkable turn around similar to McLaren turnaround. I really look forward to seeing how well Williams will do in the rest of this season, I wish them well and hope next season is just as prosperous, if not more.

    Have to agree with @F1frog I liked when Melbourne was the first race of the year, it made the Australian race that more special; it was good to see Australia introduce the world to a new season of F1.
    However, I tend to agree with the teams when so many of them and a lot of their employees voice the severe struggles with triple headers. I’m all for seeing more races but only when it makes sense and produces good racing. I know there’s always politics with F1 teams but there’s a lot of voicing & justification for not doing triple headers thats more than just politics. Sadly, Liberty/FOM aren’t interested in listening to them and instead went ahead and promoted Triple headers; must be a money thing :(

    1. @redpill The same race amount is achievable with fewer triples or even none, so not a definite must.

    2. Well i hope the Mercedes and the mclarens qualify ahead of the Redbull to give Horner something to think about.

  4. Do you all believe more races is always a good thing, as fans?

    I’m personally not convinced.

    1. No, I’d rather have consistency. So every two weeks no exception, always starting same time (when in EU), etc

    2. Having more races directly goes against F1 and Liberty Media’s stated goal of reducing carbon emissions. It should be in their interest to limit the calendar to 20 races and instead spend time thinking about how to reduce travel and their carbon footprint even further.

      1. Provided that each additional race brings them more income than the cost of carbon credits purchased to offset those races – they’ll still come out in front financially, and be satisfied that they are being sufficiently environmentally responsible.
        This is a marketing business, remember…

  5. In reference to COTD, I personally feel that anymore than 20 starts to feel like too many. I think 20+ just starts to dilute things a bit, Makes each race feel less like a special event & more like a routine thing which is something the increase in double/triple headers (I honestly cannot stand the triple headers) hasn’t helped.

    I’ve said this a few times since the calender hit 20+ races but with that many I tend to find that I start to feel a bit burnt out by the last 2-3 & regardless of how competitive the championship fight is I feel really disengaged over those last races & am relieved when the seasons over. And with the expanding calender has also come a smaller off-season which leaves less time to recharge & get hyped for the start of the next one.

    And something else i’ve said before is that Liberty taking the start time an hour later somehow makes it feel like it takes up more of the day now as there’s less time after the sessions to do other things & less time to spend with friends/family. Maybe in some regions (The US for example where things start earlier in the morning) that isn’t an issue, But in the UK sessions start at 2pm so it again feels like it’s swallowing up more time. And the sprint format bumping qualifying/sprint race to even later in the afternoon again doesn’t help that feeling.

    If it were upto me i’d honestly cap the season at 18 races as that to me feels like the perfect number & I bet if you asked teams & drivers they would probably fall on a calender closer to that as well.

    1. I’ve always thought 16/17 was about right for a long enough season narrative and to allow each race to be its own standalone important event.

  6. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    19th September 2021, 8:49

    Verstappen can definitely still win at Sochi next weekend – he and the team won’t be too worried about that one. Rather I think it will be the decision on when/if to take the engine penalty that will be the critical decision.

    I wonder if Mercedes will follow suit with Hamilton…kind of like in a pit strategy on if they’ll box in the same lap or do the opposite.

    1. @imabouttogoham Voluntarily taking grid penalties for the same race as RB would be foolish as this would give less chance for a big points gain.

      1. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
        20th September 2021, 1:36

        however, it seems to be a given that both Hamilton and Verstappen will be taking engine penalties (ICU and other components). They will cancel each other out.

        I think out of the remaining list, Sochi is probably the most overtake friendly track left, COTA is next but I really don’t know how bad covid will be in Texas in a month’s time. So it’s Sochi or COTA.

    2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      19th September 2021, 12:31

      @imabouttogoham funny part is whoever decides to take it later will be behind the other (assuming they both occupy the last row). So there is benefit in announcing the change early on in the weekend.

    3. Started 19th, finished 5th in 2018. Started 2nd, finished 2nd 2020.

      It doesn’t look a bad shout to go for a PU change.

      1. Without Hamilton’s penalties Max would of been 3rd.

  7. For me, the main disappointment is not having a Miami-Montreal double, which should be a no-brainer.

    Sochi Autodrom indeed wouldn’t be a terrible track for taking the PU element penalties as shown by (most relevantly for RBR) the 2018 and ’19 races despite not being the most overtaking-friendly one on paper.

  8. If the grid penalty is nullified by taking a back of the grid engine penalty then the grid drop should still to be served. IMO.

    A few weeks ago there was talk of having to take a 10 place grid drop for a new ICE. Dropping a further 3 to serve the grid penalty works.

    1. That already is how it works.
      So 10 +3=13 places dropped.
      But often they change not only the ice but more and lower than the back of the field is not possible.

    2. I doubt they’ll just take a new ICE. They’ll take ICE, turbo, CE, gearbox etc.

  9. Horner said that Red Bull accepted the stewards’ decision, while doubling down on his belief that both Verstappen and Hamilton held responsibility in the accident.

    “Both drivers knew they needed to be ahead because of the difficulty to overtake,” said Horner

    Isn’t this pretty much the same as Silverstone?

    1. No Silverstone was a “tactical foul” with 300km/h and monza was 35km/h.

      1. Both tactical fouls regardless of the speeds involved.

        1. So not the same.

          1. No, you are right, they are not the same at all. Monza was caused by a desperate dive bomb from a long way behind combined with a refusal to accept that there was never going to be any space and take the escape road, whereas Silverstone was caused by a slightly too high an entry speed on Lap 1 with cold tyres and a full fuel tank causing a little understeer during some hard-fought racing. They are definitely very different incidents.

    2. Yep, difference is that Silverstone was a genuine overtake attempt as Hamilton was side by side at one point, Monza was a desperate lunge where a driver actually sustained an injury. But in Horners eyes Max can do no wrong.

      1. @f1-plossl

        Yep, difference is that Silverstone was a genuine overtake attempt as Hamilton was side by side at one point, Monza was a desperate lunge where a driver actually sustained an injury. But in Horners eyes Max can do no wrong.

        This is even more true about who’s accusing it.

  10. There was a rare human error in our pit stop, as a result of the new technical directive

    I don’t fully know how to read this. Rare because there was no human element prior to the technical directive?

    1. What I understand is that the wheelman has to wait for a green light to come on, on his gun, and then retract. The guy released before the light came on, and had to ‘turn’ the nut again, you can actually see that in the footage.

      1. No the wheelman has to tighten the wheel nut and then press a button to send a signal to the jack man.

        If the switch is pressed before tightening the wheel nut the process has to be reset and done again.

    2. The Dolphins, previously, Red Bull had set it up so the wheel gun was linked to the traffic light system that the team use to instruct the driver when to go. The idea was that the wheel gun would automatically send a signal to the traffic light system once it detected a certain torque resistance had been reached, signalling the wheel nut had been done up, whereas previously the mechanic had to press a button to signal the wheel had been done up.

      However, the indication is that Red Bull’s system potentially included sensor systems that wouldn’t be classified as purely passive systems and were outside of the control of the mechanics, which would potentially mean they were breaching the regulations (any sensor systems have to be purely passive under the regulations).

      1. This means the new regulation is worse for safety as the slow pitstop proved RB didn’t had any problems for years and now in the second race already a error. I think you will get more errors coming from the teams.

  11. Well, Toto can enforce in season rule changes (wings, pit stops, tyres) so it’s all a pretty orchestrated season anyway.

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