There is a good chance that the general classification of the World Championship will have a new leader after the Russian Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday (2 p.m.) in Sochi.
Max Verstappen (Red Bull), who is currently five points ahead of Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), his only contender for the title, is doomed to the feat since he will start in last position on the grid, due to an engine change.
BREAKING: @ Max33Verstappen will start Sunday's Russian Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to a power unit change
More to follow ... # RussianGP # F1 pic.twitter.com/LPMzWwvbLR
- Formula 1 (@ F1) September 24, 2021
The regulations allow three engines per driver in the season.
At Silverstone, that of Verstappen did not survive the crash with his British rival seven times world champion, which had already caused him three penalty places, being found guilty of the accident.
Red Bull therefore decided to use a 4th engine in Russia, also taking the opportunity to change several elements.
The Dutchman will therefore now have a more competitive machine, but he will have to start in last position (or even from the pits if his team decides), just behind the Monegasque Charles Leclerc, who suffers the same sanction with his Ferrari. This Friday, Valterri Bottas (Mercedes), winner last year, set the best time in the 2nd free practice session, ahead of his teammate and Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri). This Saturday, qualifying will follow the last free practice but in the event of rain (announced this weekend) and therefore risk of cancellation, it will be the results of this Friday's practice that will be counted for the final starting grid.
Mercedes is unbeaten since the first Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014. Lewis Hamilton has won four times (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019), ahead of Valtteri Bottas (2017, 1st GP and 2020 success), and Nico Rosberg ( 2016).