Red Bull saw championship contender Max Verstappen take a podium at the Russian Grand Prix after a dramatic ending in wet conditions.
With 5 laps to go, Verstappen had got up to 7th position, having started in last place due to a grid penalty for changing engine and his crash at Monza. Despite some good early moves, a lack of pace in his second stint meant that Verstappen looked set to finish outside the top six.
Meanwhile, his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez had managed to get in ahead of front row starter Carlos Sainz to run 3rd, having lead for a couple of laps and overcome a slow pit-stop to get back in to challenge for a first podium since the French Grand Prix in June.
But a brief rainstorm that fully arrived in the final few laps would change the order up and down the grid, initially arriving in the second sector before eventually covering the circuit. Red Bull would be no different.
Verstappen managed to make the call to change to wet weather tyres at just the right time, allowing the Dutch driver to jump several cars and take a surprise podium having started right at the back of the field.
Perez wouldn’t be so lucky, with the Mexican waiting too long to change to inters, having a half-spin in the pit lane and another slow stop. He would duly be jumped by several cars who had timed their stops right and finished in 9th place.
At the end of the 15th round of 22 in the 2021 F1 championship, Verstappen lost the championship leader to Lewis Hamilton, who picked up his 100th race win in Formula One after jumping long-time leader Lando Norris. But the gap is at just two points, having threatened for most of the afternoon to be larger.
Perez remains 5th in the driver’s standings, with the driver 19 points behind Norris and 7.5 points ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who would manage a third podium of the season.
In the constructor’s championship, Red Bull remain in second place. The Milton Keynes-based team are 33 points behind leaders Mercedes, and 130 points clear of third place McLaren.
After the race, Verstappen spoke of his delight to get the podium.
He said, “Of course to come from last to second is very good and when I woke up this morning I definitely didn’t expect this result.
“To finish where we did with the penalty we had, we didn’t lose as many points as we could have so as a Team we did a really good job. It was a crucial call to change to the inters, it was really slippery on track and we made a great decision with the timing and took the right lap to pit.”
Perez admitted his disappointment he couldn’t land himself a third podium of the season.
He said, “We were on for a podium today so I decided to take the risk in staying out on the slicks instead of pitting for inters.
“”In the first and third sector it was pretty dry and you could get temperature into the tyres, so if it then dried up those of us on the slicks would have made it work and those on the inters would have seen their race destroyed. In hindsight the slick wasn’t the right tyre and ultimately the timing of the rain in the race meant some people got lucky today and others didn’t. We were on for a great result with a podium through pure merit and despite a slow pit stop we still managed to come through the field to third but sometimes this is how racing is.”