Russian Grand Prix 2020
Mercedes’ utter dominance in Sochi continued as they won the Russian Grand Prix for the seventh year in a row. However, it wasn’t Lewis Hamilton on the top step of the podium this time around.
Instead, it was team-mate Valtteri Bottas who claimed the chequered flag, his first win since the season-opening race in Austria. Meanwhile, Hamilton had to settle for a distant third after being hit with two time penalties for an infraction during his practice start, which completely derailed his race.
It was a rare speed bump for Hamilton this season as he remains well on-course for his record-tying seventh world championship.
Highlights of the game
Despite less than ideal circumstances, Hamilton still produced his fifth pole in a row during qualifying to start the race at the top of the grid. Max Verstappen finished second to start alongside Hamilton in the front row, with Bottas and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez occupying the second row.
And on the other end of the grid, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was starting way down in 14th after suffering a scary crash in Q2.
There was drama even before the race began as Hamilton was being investigated for doing his practice start outside of the designated area and faced a potential penalty. But the race began with Hamilton with no Russian Grand Prix 2020 updates about his punishment.
Despite a strong start from Bottas, Hamilton was just about able to hold onto his lead in lap 1. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll both crashed out early in what was an eventful start to the race.
And just as the race was finally getting going after the safety car, the news of Hamilton getting hit with a 10-second penalty finally emerged. Unsurprisingly, Hamilton did not sound too pleased upon receiving the news as his Russian Grand Prix 2020 odds to win the race took a massive hit.
Bottas would take over the lead once Hamilton served out his penalty, but the Finn was determined to pass his team-mate during the race itself and kept the pressure up during the first few laps.
However, Hamilton was able to hold onto the lead until he came in for his first pitstop on lap 16. And after serving his 10-second penalty, he came back out in 11th place.
It didn’t long for Hamilton to claw his way back up, though. He was back up to fifth by lap 21, but he was still trailing Bottas, the race leader, by a significant margin.
Both Bottas and Verstappen were able to maintain their spots in first and second, respectively, after making their pitstops. Bottas had a healthy lead on Verstappen, though, and was on a one-stop strategy, so the race was his to lose.
Hamilton had charged all the way back up to third by lap 31, but the front two were well ahead at that point. Not even the great Hamilton could make up such a deficit.
The last 20 or so laps went by without much incident as Bottas strolled to his second win of the season, with Verstappen and Hamilton claiming their usual spots on the podium.
Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and fifth, respectively, while Charles Leclerc finished sixth, an impressive result considering he started down in 10th.
After his penalty-hit race in Russia, Hamilton will have to wait a while longer to match Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix wins.
Hamilton went up to 10 penalty points, which put him just two more points shy of a one-race ban. But his two penalty points were rescinded shortly after the race, so he is back to eight penalty points.
Meanwhile, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas now has two wins in Sochi. The other track where the Finn has multiple race wins is the Red Bull Ring in Austria. And in line with Mercedes’ dominance in Russia, Bottas has had a lot of success in Sochi; he’s finished on the podium in each of the last four Russian GPs.
The F1 season will take another one-week break before coming back for the Eifel Grand Prix, which will be held at Nurburgring in Germany on October 11.
Nurburgring hasn’t hosted an F1 race since the 2013 German Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel won that race for Red Bull, although the SBOTOP odds are unlikely to have the German as one of the favourites this time around as he continues to struggle with his Ferrari this season.
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