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Verstappen will start Russian GP from back of grid

Red Bull have decided to change the power unit in the Dutchman's car

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Max Verstappen will be a the back of the grid of Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix after taking a penalty for using too many power units this Formula 1 season.  

Over the course of the F1 season, teams are permitted to use three engines, and with the change Red Bull have now used four on Verstappen’s car, thus he will start 20th in Sochi. 

The Russian GP is traditional one of Mercedes’ strong tracks, and with Verstappen already having a three-place grid penalty for the collision with Lewis Hamilton at Monza, Red Bull decided it was the perfect chance to replace the engine. 

In both Friday’s practice sessions, Valtteri Bottas led Hamilton as Mercedes asserted their strengths at Sochi, with the Finn just 0.044 seconds quicker than his teammate in Practice 2. 

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during Russian Grand Prix practice REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

“I said before that we’d take everything into account,” Verstappen said of the engine change, “also with the weather, and with the weather for tomorrow, so we thought it would be best to take it here.

“In 2018, the gaps to the midfield were a bit bigger, so I think it will be a bit more difficult to come through. But we had to take the penalty anyway, and if we wouldn’t have taken it here, we would have taken it somewhere else. 

“So we thought, ‘OK, we’ll decide to do it here’, and we’ll try to make the best of it in the race. I hope that it will work out, but tomorrow, let’s first wait and see how the weather will be.”

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