Kampala, Uganda | XINHUA | Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas took his second win of the 2020 Formula 1 season with the victory in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, after teammate Lewis Hamilton finished third following a ten-second time penalty.
There was controversy before the race had even started, as it emerged that Hamilton was under investigation for making two practise starts outside the permitted area of the pit lane on his way to the starting grid.
Once the race was underway, stewards decided to hit Hamilton with two five-second time penalties, which he served at his pit stop on lap 17.
Hamilton had started from pole position and held onto his lead despite the long run to the first braking zone exposing him to attack from Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
However, unlike Bottas and Verstappen, Hamilton started the race on soft compound tyres and had to come in to change them sooner than he would have liked, while Bottas and Verstappen were able to go much deeper into the race on their medium compound rubber.
Hamilton’s earlier stop, coupled with his time penalties, meant the Briton emerged from the pitlane down in 11th place. Though he was able to carve his way through the field to finish third, Hamilton was clearly irked at his punishment and voiced his displeasure over the pits-to-car radio.
By contrast, Bottas, who had started third, inherited the lead after Hamilton’s pit stop, and was able to make his own stop on lap 27 without losing the first place that he would then hold to the end.
“Once I was in clean air I felt that the pace was pretty awesome and that I could control everything,” said Bottas, who also took home the bonus point for fastest lap.
“Never give up. It’s a good day. It’s nice to get another win as it’s been a while and I now need to keep the momentum going,” added the Finn, who has generally struggled to match Hamilton’s pace this year.
Despite losing a place to Bottas at the start, Verstappen was happy to finish second. “To be able to split the Mercedes cars, we can be pleased with that. I was just trying to do my own race. I’m very happy with second after two (retirements).”
Behind the top three, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez finished a strong fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault, and Charles Leclerc had a good run to sixth in his Ferrari ahead of Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon.
Local hero Daniil Kvyat gave the Russian fans in attendance something to cheer with eighth place ahead of AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly, while a difficult race for Alex Albon saw the Red Bull driver finish tenth.
The only two drivers to retire from the race both did so after separate incidents on lap 1. Carlos Sainz misjudged the angle of the barrier at Turn 2 and broke his McLaren’s front suspension, while the Racing Point of Lance Stroll was pitched into a spin by Leclerc and hit the wall.
Despite a difficult day, Hamilton retains the lead in the drivers’ championship with 205 points, though Bottas has closed the gap and now sits second with 161 points, with Verstappen third on 128 points.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes remains well out in front with 366 points, ahead of Red Bull on 192 points and McLaren on 106.
The next race of the 2020 Formula 1 season is the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany on October 11.