Max Verstappen says he's braced for a “tight” fight in Formula 1 qualifying for third place on the grid for the Russian Grand Prix after struggling for pace in Friday practice.

Red Bull has never scored a podium at the Sochi Autodrom and its struggles continued in both practice sessions.

Verstappen was only seventh in FP2, 1.5s down on Valtteri Bottas, while Alexander Albon could only manage 12th.



On the other hand, Renault continued its strong impressive form as Daniel Ricciardo ended the day in third behind the two Mercedes.

Verstappen suspects it will be a challenge for Red Bull to qualify third given the impressive pace of the Renault in Russia.

“It will be tough in qualifying I think to be in P3 but in the race it looks a bit more competitive so I am happy about that,” Verstappen said. “There’s still a bit of work to do to make sure that we are P3.

“Clearly I think Renault so far today they have been very competitive and you never know who else but I think first of all we have to look at ourselves and make the right trade off with downforce levels as well and make sure the car is stable, and then I’d be quite confident that quali will be tight but we will be in the fight.”

Red Bull typically performs better on race fuel, but Albon was unsure whether its pace was any better when compared to the qualifying simulations.

“I don’t know to be honest, I haven’t even seen it,” Albon added. “I don’t think it’s even impressive. I think on a track like this, honestly, it’s just about looking after the tyres as it’s so thermal here. You just need a really good balance so if you’re good in the short run, you’re good in the long run but we're just missing a bit in both.”




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