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F1 Russian GP: Hamilton penalized, Bottas wins

FIA Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, Russia
• Bottas strolls to the win after Hamilton gets a 10-second penalty

Sochi, Russia, Sept 27/20 (GRW): When Lewis Hamilton took his place at the front of the grid, he knew that the stewards were likely going to give him some kind of penalty. It turned out that he was penalized five seconds twice for making practice starts in the wrong place. He served this 10-second penalty on his only pit stop at lap 16 of the 53-lap race, falling to tenth place, 40 second behind his teammate who had taken over the lead of the race. Bottas continued to lead all the remaining laps taking the checker by a 7.7-second margin over Max Verstappen.

Meanwhile Hamilton had been able to claw his way back towards the front and he finished the race in third place, 23 seconds behind Bottas.

As so often happens in these F1 races, the start was chaotic. Verstappen cut across the second turn chicane but he continued unabated. Carlos Sainz went off at the same place but he hit the wall and was out of the race. Lance Stroll crashed off here on the other side of the track and his race was ended on the first lap as well – leaving just 18 cars still racing. Verstappen had qualified second fastest but Bottas had passed him even before his off.

Hamilton led the first 15 laps until he was called into the pits to change over onto ‘hard’ tires, falling back behind Sebastian Vettel who was in ninth place. Most of the cars had started on ‘soft’ or ‘medium’ tires and most of the runners came in soon after Hamilton to switch over to ‘hard’s. Despite this, Hamilton was complaining non-stop that his team had brought him in too soon.

Verstappen pitted and took on ‘hard’ tires on lap 25 and Bottas followed suit on the next lap. This let Charles Leclerc up into second place for a couple of laps until he too pitted. Verstappen quickly regained his second position. Hamilton was charging back towards the front and by lap 30, he was up into third place, still ten seconds back of Verstappen. Over the remaining 23 laps he was never able to get any closer and he had to settle for a distant third place finish behind Verstappen.

Meanwhile Leclerc was falling back and, by lap 31, the order was Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Sergio Perez (Racing Point), Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), and then Leclerc – ahead of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Kvyat.

While the television announcers continued their non-stop patter as if there was still a race being contested, in truth, the remaining laps reeled off with no changes in the order among the front eight drivers. I dozed off for several laps but, when I went back to look at the tape of the race, I could see that I had not missed anything.

Bottas was happy to have won and Verstappen was pleased with his second-place finish after DNFs in the previous two races. Hamilton continued to be grumpy about his fate here.

Bottas said, “What a feeling! It’s been a little while since my last win, but I knew there would be opportunities heading into the race and luckily things went my way this time. It was a bit tricky at the start because an insect hit my visor just as I was entering the braking zone, which meant I couldn’t really see where to brake and so I went deep. But I knew it was going to be a long race and with the medium tire, there would be chances later on. Lewis then had his penalty, and once I was in clean air, the pace was really strong, and I was able to control everything without any real concerns. Now I need to keep this momentum up. There are quite a few races to go and you just never know, so I’ll keep pushing, I won’t give up and we’ll see how it turns out in the end.”

As for Hamilton, he said, “ It wasn’t a great day for me, but it is what it is. We need to go through everything and understand exactly what went on to get those two penalties. That obviously dropped me back and the first stint on the soft was also challenging, as I was trying to go as far as I could on that tire. I think I did pretty well on the soft and from then, it was about trying to recover as much as possible. It was just one of those days, but I’m grateful that I still managed to get a podium, bag some points and didn’t lose as much as I could have done. Congratulations to Valtteri on the win, and I’ll take the points and move forward.”

• Click HERE for the results and the points standings from the Russian GP
• Click HERE for the Lap Chart of the race
• Click HERE for the ‘tire history’ of the race

• The next Grand Prix will be the Eifel Grand Prix in two weeks time at the Nürburgring in Germany on Sunday, October 11th.

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