The Russian Grand Prix had Hamilton reeling under the pressure of time penalties, handed to him over two practice start infringements on his laps. This meant that he could not compete with the Redbull or the other Mercedes and was handed a P3. Bottas got a nice start as he passed Verstappen and stayed there for the rest of the race and got the lead after Hamilton went through his penalty.
The Finn won a rather undramatic race at Sochi, the venue for his first win three years ago and his second for the season after the Austrian Grand Prix. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez took home P4 despite being penalised with 5 seconds off his time for his unsafe rejoining of the race after going off-track. The yellow and black Renault with Daniel Ricciardo behind the wheel managed to keep Charles LeClerc in his Ferrari at bay.
The Alpha Tauris had a positive result with Gasly coming P9 with his teammate Daniil Kvyat, local for Sochi slithered into P8 with Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon coming home for P10 who started P15 due to his grid-penalty for changing his gearbox. McLaren had a rocky start to the race with Carlos Sainz ripping off his front wing at turn 3 while Racing Point’s Lance Stroll spun out after being bumped by LeClerc which led to a very early safety car.
“I knew it was going to be a long race… and with the medium tyre there would be opportunities. But Lewis had the penalty, so once I was in clean air I felt the pace was pretty awesome and I could really control everything.” said Valtteri Bottas in his keynote.
Verstappen had a great race weekend overall, with qualifying second fastest, gaining confidence and also giving some respite to the RedBull team that their car is almost as fast as the Mercedes. His P2 came without drama as the three race leaders were for most part of the race quite a distance from the rest of the grid.
Hamilton tried to make the best of his 10-second penalty with attempting to gain as much lead as possible but with Bottas pushing ahead with all the pace, he had to pit given the almost shredded state of his soft tyres and carry out his 10-second penalty after setting several fastest laps. Bottas emerged as the clear race winner and took home precious points with the fastest lap under his belt.
With the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrome done, F1 will now head to the famed Nurburgring after a gap of seven years for the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.
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