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ottobre 01, 2019 - Honda Racing

Honda Earns Pair of Top-Five Results in Russia

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  • Max Verstappen earns 14th top-five finish in year's 16 starts
  • Rookie #alexalbon makes up 15 positions to finish fifth
  • Daniil Kvyat earns seven spots to place 12th for Toro Rosso

MARYSVILLE, Ohio – Engine changes and a crash in qualifying put the Honda-powered Aston Martin Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams behind the 8-ball for Sunday's Russian Grand Prix, but the quartet fought back to gain 29 positions and earn a pair of top-five results in Sochi.

Honda freshened its power units in advance of the stretch run of the season that includes its 'home' race in Japan followed by a two-race spin through North America. The move meant that #maxverstappen, #alexalbon and Pierre Gasly would each give up five grid spots Sunday, while #daniilkvyat was on a different cycle and his larger change dropped him to the back of the field.

Overcoming the adversity quickly, all four drivers deftly avoided an opening-lap incident, allowing Gasly to gain four positions and Kvyat to vault six spots. Verstappen made his way into the top five by Sergio Perez, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz while Albon sluiced through the field to threaten the top 10 by the race's halfway point.

Gasly fell victim to unfortunate timing as Sebastien Vettel came to a stop on Lap 26 to bring out a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) just after the Frenchman had pitted for tires, negating any advantage he had gained. The VSC did assist the rest of the Honda drivers however as Kvyat took the opportunity to switch to soft tires while Max took on mediums and Alex stayed out to gain more positions. But as soon as the race restarted, a full Safety Car period was triggered by George Russell's crash, negating any strategic advantage gained during the VSC period.

The Safety Car period did pay dividends for Albon as he changed to softer tires and used them to climb all the way to fifth place during the waning laps while Verstappen held station for fourth place. The Toro Rosso duo of Kvyat and Gasly finished 12th and 14th respectively, but were less than three seconds out of the points at the drop of the checkered flag.

The result dropped Verstappen to fourth in the season standings while Gasly remains in sixth. Albon continued to hold down the eighth spot and has narrowed the gap to seventh-placed Sainz to 14 points. Kvyat sits 12th with five races to go but is part of a group of six drivers separated by four points.

Formula 1 will a weekend off before heading to Suzuka for the October 13 Japan Grand Prix.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Technical Director, Honda F1

"Despite a penalty dropping him to ninth on the grid, Max managed to move up to fourth at the finish, producing some good overtaking moves on the way. After starting from pit lane as a result of his qualifying crash, Alex also drove aggressively, especially in the closing stages to finish behind his teammate in fifth. This was the best we could expect today given our performance level and our starting positions. Pierre was unlucky, as he made his scheduled pit stop just before the Virtual Safety Car, while others got a "free" stop. Daniil had to fight hard to come from the back row to 12th. Overall, we had a few PU related issues and we will now analyze everything very carefully to prepare as well as possible for our home race in Suzuka in two weeks' time."

Max Verstappen
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Start: 9th, Finish: 4th  

"I think P4 was the best possible result today and we had a little bit of luck with Seb (Vettel) retiring, but I'm satisfied with the points we scored considering the penalties and pace of Ferrari and Mercedes. There wasn't too much going on for me once I cleared the mid-field traffic and from there I had a bit of a lonely race until the Safety Car closed us all up. For sure we maximized the result but of course we want to be scoring more podiums and victories so we still have work to do as the others are very strong. Now I'm looking forward to Suzuka and we want to do the best we can for all the Japanese fans at Honda's home race."

Alex Albon
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Start: 20th, Finish: 5th

"It was a good race and I think P5 is the best we could have done. I wanted to bounce back and get a good result after yesterday's crash so I'm really happy with how the race went, although we probably got a bit lucky with the Safety Car. Morale was obviously a little bit low on Saturday night and it was a lot of work for the Team so this result is for them. Starting from the pit lane was never going to be easy but the pace was quite strong on the softs and it was a good haul of points. In the first stint I was struggling to get past Daniil and Pierre and it took me a long time. The downforce loss is immense when you're following in a train of cars which I think is because the track is designed a bit like a street circuit. I just need to get up to speed and in a rhythm earlier on in the weekend, but that will come with more laps and time in the car. With the exception of Abu Dhabi, all of the remaining tracks will be new for me so Suzuka will be difficult, but I like new tracks."

Daniil Kvyat
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Start: 19th, Finish: 12th  

"I had a strong and competitive race today. It was a good effort from the team to start from the back of the grid and finish very close to the points. I had a good start and some enjoyable battles, I was really fighting until the very last lap, so I'm happy with my race. It was a good Sunday in the end, especially considering the problems we had in the previous days. It's just a shame not to get the reward…the team would have deserved it."

Pierre Gasly
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Start: 16th, Finish: 14th

"It was a pretty challenging day for us. We didn't have the pace to fight for points today, I tried to do everything I could inside the cockpit but there wasn't much we could do. I had a good fight with Dany as you always have to try to fight for positions. At the time, I was pushing for P12, a position that allows you to think that something can always happen in front of you and you can finish in P10. I tried to do what I could, but we didn't have enough speed, so it was a tricky day. As today we underperformed compared to what we showed earlier this weekend, we now need to analyze and understand why to come back with better pace in Suzuka."