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Monaco apartment bet gives extra spice to race for P5 in Russia

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Remember that episode of Friends where Joey and Chandler go up against Rachel and Monica in a crazy quiz that ends in them swapping apartments for a while?

Well, Formula 1 might be doing its own version on Sunday in Russia.

With Ferrari and Mercedes over one second per lap clear of the rest of the pack, the top four positions seem settled, leaving Williams and Red Bull to battle for P5.

Red Bull has been the third-quickest team for much of the season so far, yet Williams looks more competitive in Russia, with Felipe Massa charging to sixth place in qualifying to split Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

“I predicted them to be quick here. It’s been one of their stronger circuits the last few years, and Massa’s always been pretty handy around here,” Ricciardo said of Williams.

“He got close, split Max and myself. I expect that battle to remain tomorrow. Not expecting to have the battle for the win, I think that’s between Ferrari and Mercedes, but we could have a nice little battle within ourselves for the top five.”

To add an extra twist to things, it turns out that Ricciardo, Massa and Verstappen all live inside the same apartment complex in Monaco – so why not add some extra incentive to the battle?

“I was saying whoever maybe wins our battle tomorrow can get the… Massa or Verstappen, they’ve both got pretty good-sized apartments, so maybe they can give the winner their apartment for the weekend as a bit of a token gesture!” Ricciardo joked to NBCSN after the session.

“Yeah I can give a good party and I will join,” Verstappen added.

Massa laughed before saying: “I hope I will win and I cannot give!’

The race between Red Bull and Williams may be tight, but somehow we doubt remembering that the TV guide goes to Miss Chanandeler Bong or that his job is a transpon… transponster (“that’s not even a word!”) will be much help to Ricciardo, Massa or Verstappen on Sunday.

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Daniil Kvyat unveils special ‘torpedo’ F1 helmet for Russian GP

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12 months ago, the trajectory of Daniil Kvyat’s Formula 1 career changed dramatically when a first-lap clash with Sebastian Vettel in Russia spelled the end of his time at Red Bull.

Two hits with the Ferrari driver prompted Red Bull to send Kvyat back to Toro Rosso, it’s B-team in F1, and promote young protege Max Verstappen to its senior team.

The incident had a profound impact on Kvyat, who spent the remainder of the 2016 season trying to regain his form, but he did enough to clinch another year with Toro Rosso f0r 2017.

Ahead of his home race in Russia this weekend, Kvyat has faced questions about the incident with Vettel, but played a largely straight bat, simply saying to reporters on Thursday: “I prefer to look ahead than behind.”

However, Kvyat did offer a playful nod to his surprising rivalry with Vettel last year by unveiling his helmet design for the race in Russia, featuring a torpedo – the nickname Vettel gave him in China, one race before their clash.

Vettel told Kvyat that he “came in like a torpedo” at the first corner in China last year, forcing the Ferrari driver wide and into the path of teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Kvyat was non-plussed about the incident, saying they didn’t crash so everything was OK.

While Kvyat may have hit the podium that day, it did prove to be another step towards the exit at Red Bull Racing – but on Sunday, he will have the home crowd in Sochi behind him, torpedo helmet and all.

Kvyat relishing home GP in Russia, one year after Vettel clash

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Daniil Kvyat is relishing his fourth home appearance in Formula 1 at next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, one year on from the clash with Sebastian Vettel that changed his career trajectory.

Kvyat hit Vettel twice in the opening three corners of last year’s grand prix in Sochi, with the incident leading to his demotion from Red Bull to its B-team, Toro Rosso, for the next race in Spain. Max Verstappen moved in the opposite direction and became F1’s youngest ever winner just two weeks later.

The incident had a profound effect on Kvyat, who took a long time to bounce back to form, eventually finding his feet in the closing stages of the season.

“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Russia is Sebastian – as in Sebastian Vettel. I like to torpedo Sebastian, it’s my hobby!” Kvyat joked in Toro Rosso’s Russian Grand Prix preview.

“Okay, come on, you all know I’m joking! Let’s get serious now… Maybe the first word that comes to mind should be ‘braking’ into Turn 1!

“This is always a special weekend for me as it’s my home race. I’ve had very good qualifyings there but I’ve never actually been able to put the perfect race together in Russia, so I’d like to achieve it this year.

“It’s so cool to race here, I always feel the strong support of the Russian fans and I want to make the most out of this backing and thank everyone with a strong performance.”

Russia joined the calendar back in 2014, and Kvyat – the nation’s second F1 driver after Vitaly Petrov – said the increase in awareness of the sport and rise in popularity has been noticeable.

“Since the first Russian GP back in 2014, Formula 1 in Russia has definitely grown a lot,” Kvyat said.

“To have our own race was a big step for the country and more and more fans attend every year, so you can see that the interest in the sport is much bigger!

“In 2015 I qualified in P5, which was my best qualifying result with Toro Rosso. It was quite a nice moment and I have very good memories from that day.

“The race wasn’t great, but then the following year the situation was the opposite, with not the strongest of qualis but with a decent race. This time I’m looking to be strong on both Saturday and Sunday.”

Verstappen felt P2 was in reach before Bahrain GP brake failure

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Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen felt he was on course to finish Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix in second place before a brake failure ended his race.

Verstappen ran fourth for Red Bull in the early part of the race before pitting on Lap 11 in a bid to get the undercut on the Mercedes drivers ahead.

While a similar tactic allowed Sebastian Vettel to move into the lead en route to his second win of the season, Verstappen ended his race in the wall after suffering a brake failure on his out lap.

“I hit the brake pedal, lost all the rear pressures, only had the fronts left and couldn’t stop the car,” Verstappen told NBCSN after the race.

“It’s very disappointing. We would have been second if we could have just run. We would have undercut the Mercedes. The car held on really well. That’s a side of motorsport I guess.”

Red Bull looked more competitive in both qualifying and the early part of the race than it did in either Australia or China, with Verstappen putting it down to the tire strengths of the RB13.

“We definitely improved the car but this track is hard on tires and our car is good on the tires,” Verstappen said.

The result marks Verstappen’s first DNF of the season following runs to fifth and third in Australia and China respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo thought Red Bull could fight for F1 win in Bahrain

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Daniel Ricciardo believed that Red Bull had a genuine chance of winning Sunday’s Formula 1 race in Bahrain before issues on the soft compound tire caused him to drop back from the leading runners.

Red Bull had been around one second per lap adrift of Ferrari and Mercedes in the opening two races of the year, but a good start saw Max Verstappen run fourth for the team ahead of Ricciardo in fifth.

Valtteri Bottas’ slow pace at the front of the pack allowed the Red Bull drivers to stay within three seconds of the leader, giving Ricciardo hope of a breakthrough win in 2017.

A safety car period allowed Ricciardo to jump up to third ahead of Lewis Hamilton, only for his soft tires to struggle to get up to temperature, causing him to fall back on the restart.

“The safety car was nice, we jumped up to third, but it wasn’t nice to our tires. That’s where we lost a lot of ground today,” Ricciardo told NBCSN after the race.

“We got going, but I struggled with both front and rear grip. Even then we settled into a pace, let’s say the chaos settled, we never got the tire really working. The soft was a real pain today. I was at the tail end of the pack. But I felt I was in best condition. Others slid and I managed the tires well.

“I genuinely thought we could fight for the win but we fell back.”

Ricciardo was left to endure a lonely race en route to fifth place for Red Bull, leaving him to think of his own fun in the car.

“I was singing songs to myself, thinking about a good night’s rest,” Ricciardo said.

“One [song] from Austin last year, No Devil by Sam Firman. It’s a good song.”