Valtteri Bottas takes his second win of the 2020 season at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.
Hamilton was under investigation before today’s race after conducting two practice starts outside of the designated area, for which he received a 10-second penalty to be served in the pits later in today’s race.
The six-time world champion still however managed to recover from P11 after the time was served to finish today’s race in third place, delaying his chance to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 career wins.
It was another fantastic day for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who began today’s race from P2, and after exiting the pits on lap 26 in P4, the Dutch driver quickly settled back into second place and held strong for the remainder of the race.
From lights out, Bottas launched straight ahead of Max Verstappen into P2 and quickly attempted an unsuccessful overtake on his teammate Lewis Hamilton, while the British driver held a fair bit defensive line to remain in front.
A couple of incidents on Lap one saw the safety car summoned to the track for the 5th time in 5 years at the Russian Grand Prix.
The McLaren in the hands of Carlos Sainz and the Racing Point of Lance Stroll both retired within seconds of each other.
Replays showed it was Charles Leclerc who touched the back of Lance Stroll at Turn Four to send him spinning into the barriers, while Carlos Sainz smashed into the wall on the exit of Turn Three as he attempted to navigate the bollards after running wide.
Racing resumed on lap 6 of today’s 53 lap race, with Hamilton making it into turn two ahead of his Finnish teammate and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Refusing to take his penalty as early as lap 14, Hamilton said over the team radio “Do not stop me now. Do not!”, but the British champion was swiftly summoned on lap 17 to serve his time.
On his exit from the pits, Hamilton found himself in P11, and was now 2s behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, and 36s off the pace of the leading Mercedes in the hands of Bottas.
By lap 21, a podium finish still looked possible for Hamilton who had manoeuvred his way back up to 6th as Kevin Magnussen became the latest to enter into the pits ahead of him, while Bottas and Verstappen had yet to opt for new tyres.
Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault became the subject of another investigation today after he was given permission to overtake his teammate Esteban Ocon, and failed to follow the race directors instructions at turn two.
The Australian driver was handed a 5-second penalty to be added to his final time following today’s race.
Finally, by lap 31 Hamilton was back up into the podium positions in third, with Max Verstappen just 8s up ahead. However, Bottas had a clear line of sight, 13s ahead of the Red Bull with 22 laps to go.
It was another trying day for the second Red Bull of Alex Albon who started today’s race in P15 after a 5-place penalty was given to him for a gearbox change.
He found himself on the edge of the points towards the end of today’s race, and with just 6 laps to go, found himself back in the points getting around the McLaren of Lando Norris who locked up after running wide at Turn 13.
On the final lap, Bottas held firmly onto the lead with 8s between himself and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was a further 11s ahead of Lewis Hamilton and that’s how they crossed the finish line.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez drove an impressive race, and finished in 4th, with the two Renault’s of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon in 5th and 7th respectively, divided by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in 6th.
In eight was Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat, followed by his teammate Pierre Gasly in 9th and the second Red Bull of Alex Albon closing out the points in tenth.
Post Race Interviews:
Speaking about his well-earned win after the race Bottas said; “I knew the start was going to be the first opportunity, but it was quite compromised because there was a massive bee or something that hit my visor!
“I knew I would have opportunities after that and then Lewis had the penalty. Once I was in clean air, I felt the pace was pretty awesome and I could really control everything.”
After once again splitting the Mercedes duo, Verstappen said; “Once we went onto the hard tyre I think we were a little bit more competitive, so happy about that.
“I was just trying to do my own race. I think we did everything well, and I’m very happy with second.”
A disappointed Lewis Hamilton had very little to say after the race, simply noting that is was “just not the greatest day. It is what it is. It’s done now. I take the points that I got and move on.”
Hamilton remains at the top of the driver’s standings with 205 points, closely followed by Bottas with 161 and Verstappen with 128.
Racing resumes on Sunday, October 11, 2020, at 1:10 pm at the Nürburgring in Germany.
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