The Red Bull driver has been consigned to a back-of-the-grid start for Sunday’s race after the team opted to install a brand new power unit into his car, triggering a grid penalty for exceeding his permitted power unit components for the season.

Red Bull has been forced into the change after Verstappen lost his second engine in his hefty shunt at Silverstone following a clash with title rival Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap of July’s British Grand Prix.

Verstappen has experience of racing his way from the back in Sochi after starting 19th three years ago when he was hit with an engine-related grid drop. The Dutchman was able to recover to fifth on that day, though he is expecting a tougher challenge this time around.

“Of course in 2018 the gaps to the midfield were a bit bigger,” Verstappen said. “So naturally it will be a bit more difficult to come though.

“But we have to take the penalty anyway. If we wouldn’t have taken it here we would have taken it somewhere else. So we thought we’ll decide to do it here and we’ll try to make the best of it in the race.”

Verstappen insisted Red Bull’s decision to take the penalty in Russia was not solely down to the strong performance of its chief rival Mercedes during Friday practice.

“It’s not only the results,” he explained. “I said before that we’ll take everything into account, also with the weather for tomorrow. We thought it would be best to take it here.”

And Verstappen, who leads Hamilton by five points in the drivers’ standings, said Red Bull has focused its efforts on setting up his car to be as competitive as possible on Sunday.

“We just tried to make the best possible racecar for this weekend once we decided to take that engine,” he added.

“I hope of course it’s going to work out but tomorrow let’s first wait and see how the weather will be.”

With Verstappen at the very back, Red Bull will be pinning its hopes of challenging Mercedes for victory in Sochi on Sergio Perez

After struggling for pace throughout Friday practice, the Mexican admitted it will be a difficult task to stop Mercedes from winning. 

"It’s going to be a bit of a challenge," he said. "Obviously they’re very, very strong around here, but, hopefully, we’re able to give them some pressure and qualify very close to them – that would be ideal."