We're into the second half of the season and Russia is the first standalone race after the last three triple headers. How are you feeling?
Max Verstappen: I think it was good for everyone in the Team to have a weekend off but I'm looking forward to getting back to racing, especially after not actually doing a lap in the race at Mugello. It is of course not nice leaving a race weekend in that way, especially when I think we had a good chance of more than just a podium but we have to put that behind us. We have of course discussed the issues as a Team and everybody is working in the same direction and trying to fight for every possibility in every single race that we can. I think we made some positive steps with the car at Mugello and it was of course good to see Alex on the podium for the first time. We won't stop fighting for wins and podiums.
What are the key things to look for at this track?
MV: It's not going to be easy in Sochi and it has not been a favourite for us with a lot of long straights and the competition behind will be close. The track is pretty unique as most of the corners are 90 degrees which we don't usually experience. So we need to make sure we get the set-up just right, especially for certain slow corners to maximise the exit before the straights. It's also not the easiest place to overtake, but let's hope this weekend I won't need to do too much overtaking and that we can get a good result.
We're into the second half of the season with Russia the first standalone race after three triple headers. How are you feeling?
MV: The triple headers have been relentless! The weeks you have off racing go by just like that and I'm sure it's the same for everyone. The last triple header felt really long so it's definitely been nice to spend some time at home. That said, if you have one race or three, it doesn't really change anything in that you're always ready and raring to go but it will be good to have a normal race weekend this time.
Have you had some time to reflect on your maiden F1 podium in Mugello?
Alex Albon: Yes I have! I was obviously super happy and a big thanks to the Team who have supported me from day one - they deserve it and I feel like I deserved it. It was a good day out and great to see how happy everyone was underneath the podium - it was nice giving them something to celebrate. It's very special to see the Thai flag on the podium and also to be the first driver to do that. I'm proud to wave the flag for everyone in Thailand that has been supporting me throughout my career. Sunday was a really, really good day so now let's keep going, get our heads down and hopefully get some more silverware!
What should we look out for at the Sochi Autodrom?
AA: Well Sochi doesn't tend to be an amazing track for us as a Team but as we've seen this season, you never really know what to expect until you get to the track so let's see how it goes but we head to Sochi hopeful. It's quite a unique track and truthfully I prefer others from a pure driving perspective. Each corner is very similar so if you're strong in one then you tend to be strong in all of them, but the last sector is quite technical and also low grip so you need to manage wheelspin, especially on a push lap. Sochi is a good track for racing though as you can follow other cars there so hopefully we'll be able to put on another good show for the fans.
We saw in Mugello the gap to Mercedes in qualifying decrease. What do you think that means for Russia?
AA: I think it provides some more optimism that things are getting closer. On paper, I think Mugello was quite a nice circuit for us but I think it definitely shows we're making steps forward with the car each weekend. I think Monza was probably an anomaly and now we're going back to more downforce circuits we should be more competitive. The goal is always to catch Mercedes as they are the benchmark.
We heard you're up to speed with Russian culture. Can you explain?
AA: (Laughs). Yes I am, apparently I speak a bit of Russian but I'm not very good at it! I only know a couple of words at most so please don't quiz me on it. I had six Russian teammates in karting and I'm still friends with a couple of them so I picked up the odd word here and there.