Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he expected the gap between his cars and pole position in qualifying in Russia, pointing out that Sochi has never favored the team.
His sentiments were echoed by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, both of whom also acknowledged that the long straights do not suit the package. Ricciardo was 1.7s off Sebastian Vettel’s pole, having been as close as 0.7s to pole man Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain.
“If you look back to last year I think we were two seconds off,” said Horner. “So I think this track plays to our weaknesses. We’ve still got plenty of work to do. P5, of all the times we’ve come to this circuit, is actually our best grid position. Again it demonstrates that it’s far from our strongest circuit.”
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Ricciardo was only 0.3s clear of the works Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, the same margin between the two teams as in Bahrain. Horner played down suggestions that the works team could be getting a superior specification of power unit, helping it to close the gap.
“We certainly hope not. I’d be very surprised if that was the case. We’ve seen quite often the Renault good in qualifying and fade in the race. So we’re obviously trying to balance both elements, qualifying and the race. Make no mistake, we’ve got work to do on the chassis side, but here is a very engine dominated track.”