Marc Priestley thinks Red Bull Racing has done excellent business in Russia. In addition to the fact that Max Verstappen has barely had to give in to title rival Lewis Hamilton , he also has an extra engine at his disposal for the rest of the season. Whatever Mercedes attempted at Sochi Autodrom , it was not enough to stop the Dutchman's advance, although he was of course assisted by a fortunate rain shower.
„The idea of ‚the favourite‘ will go back and forth throughout the rest of the season,“ the former McLaren mechanic said when asked to shed light on the 2021 title favorite. "Verstappen essentially has a free car this weekend. motor installed with minimal losses. That is an enormous example of damage limitation.' In that way, Red Bull is indeed the moral winner of the race.
Mercedes tried to give something back by going for an engine change with Valtteri Bottas , although the team later admitted that this was not for tactical reasons. „Given the fact that Verstappen started at the back, Mercedes managed to go for an engine change with Bottas,“ continues the Briton, who also does not believe it was a strategic choice. Mercedes is said to have encountered problems with the engine of the Finn around the Russian Grand Prix weekend.
Mercedes seemed to be getting away with that engine swap as they didn't really need Bottas at the front of the grid, when later this season he could still be of great value to his British team-mate. Priestley: "This was an opportunity for Mercedes because Verstappen was no longer in the fight at the front. So they didn't need two Mercedes there. Where Mercedes was surprised is that Verstappen managed to get so far forward.'