Red Bull boss Christian Horner gives verdict on Max Verstappen’s Russian GP grid penalty

F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen’s three-place grid penalty will not be ‘such a handicap’ at next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. The F1 title leader was slapped with the punishment after dramatically colliding with rival Lewis Hamilton last time out.

The British seven-time world champion Hamilton had exited the pit lane when Verstappen came haring down the main straight at Monza and attempted to overtake on the outside.

However, inevitably the pair collided, before Verstappen’s Red Bull lifted up off the kerb and on top of his rival’s car – with Hamilton fortunately escaping without any serious injuries thanks to the presence of his halo.

Verstappen made it very clear that it was Hamilton’s fault at the time, while the Brit certainly disagreed with his rival.

The collision ended up going to the race stewards, and it was Verstappen who has been punished for the incident – being handed a three-place grid penalty in Sochi.

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It comes as a blow to Verstappen and Red Bull in the title race, with the Dutchman holding a slender five-point advantage over Hamilton ahead of the 15th race of 22 on the F1 calendar this season.

But Horner is staying rather optimistic about the situation, insisting he is ‘looking forward’ to seeing how Red Bull cope with the situation.

Looking ahead to next weekend’s meeting in Sochi, Horner said in his column for the Red Bull website: ‘I was looking through the results at the Russian Grand Prix and back in 2018, Max went from last to first before needing to make his pit stop. We were second there last year but it’s a circuit we have never won at.

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‘It has been a Mercedes stronghold. For me, Monza and Sochi, I’ve them marked down mentally as Mercedes circuits so it will be a challenge.

‘We have the grid penalty to take for Max too, but in Sochi it’s not such a handicap because of the strength of the tow down to turn one. I’m looking forward to it and seeing how we get on.’

Horner will be desperate for Red Bull to end Mercedes’ stronghold in Sochi as they go in search of winning the Constructors Championship come the end of the season.

in fact, Mercedes have remarkably won all seven of the last races at the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton has won four of the last seven, Nico Rosberg triumphed once while Valtteri Bottas has claimed victory twice, including last year.

But Verstappen will have his own ideas and want to end Mercedes’ dominance in Russia, even from three places further back on the grid.

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