Loss of power leaves Massa 18th in Sochi qualifying

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Felipe Massa has been left lamenting a loss of power on his Williams FW36 car during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix today, leaving him down in 18th position in the final standings.

The Brazilian driver has enjoyed a promising season with his new team after leaving Ferrari at the end of last year, but it has been marked by a series of unlucky incidents, leaving him short of his deserved points total.

In qualifying at the Sochi Autodrom today, Massa found himself stuck in the Q1 dropzone with a few minutes remaining, and could not improve his lap time due to a loss of power on his Mercedes engine.

As a result, he finished in 18th position at the end of the session, matching his worst qualifying result of the season from the British Grand Prix back in July.

“I’m very disappointed as the car has been looking very competitive at this track and we should have been looking at the second row at least, but a problem with the car in Q1 has pushed us down the grid,” Massa said. “I had no real power throughout qualifying and we were trying different things to resolve this out on track but in the end there was nothing I could do.

“P18 is far from ideal but I know I have the car underneath me to overtake tomorrow so we should have a chance to score points and limit the damage.”

Williams has shown impressive pace throughout the weekend in Sochi, with Valtteri Bottas narrowly missing out on his first pole position in Formula 1. He will start the race from third place on the grid.

You can watch the Russian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET tomorrow.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.