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Why Red Bull were forced to change Verstappen's strategy

Helmut Marko believes Max Verstappen would have finished the Russian Grand Prix off the podium had it not rained.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says Max Verstappen's P2 finish was aided by the rain, as the Dutchman's tyre issues forced the team to change strategy. Starting the Russian Grand Prix from the back of the grid, Verstappen was fitted with Hard Pirelli tyres. Passing the likes of Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc, the Red Bull driver even found himself within range of Lewis Hamilton at one stage. However, his progress slowed down soon after, as his front-left tyre was worn down from following other cars so closely. This forced Verstappen to pit earlier than initially planned. From there it looked as though sixth was all he could achieve in Sochi. That all changed with the rain, as Marko noted the wet conditions helped Verstappen out greatly. "The rain helped us. Max changed to the Intermediates at the right moment," Marko told German media. "He got through the field well, but unfortunately his tyres wore out too quickly. "This forced us to change our strategy. A podium would not have been possible without the rain." Marko is confident heading into the upcoming races, especially because he believes Hamilton will have to change his engine. "I hope our information is correct, because that means Lewis will also have to change engines," Marko added. "Going from the last place on the grid to the podium is not that easy. "The upcoming races are in our favour, certainly the higher-altitude circuits of Brazil and Mexico. We have to win and we will attack again."

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