Hamilton wins wild Turkish Grand Prix and takes seventh world championship

Lewis Hamilton won his seventh world championship following a wet and wild Turkish Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver has now equalled Michael Schumacher’s achievement with seven titles.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez finished in a solid second place while Sebastian Vettel drove a superb race in the Ferrari to score a podium spot with third.

The majority of the race was led by polesitter Lance Stroll, who lost out by taking a second pit stop for intermediates, a strategy Charles Leclerc used to charge to third in the closing stages, which he lost to teammate Sebastian Vettel after making a last-gaps move on Perez, while Mercedes opted to leave Hamilton on a one-stopper after he had charged up the leading Racing Point cars.

The race result gives Hamilton the 2020 championship and he now level with Michael Schumacher’s record title record.

At the start, all the cars made slow, slippery starts, but it was the Red Bull cars that could not carry enough momentum off the line, which meant Max Verstappen and Alex Albon were quickly swamped from second and fourth by the Renault and Mercedes cars.

Esteban Ocon followed Perez into Turn 1 in third position as Stroll led away from pole, but he was tapped into a spin by Daniel Ricciardo, who had turned out of the left-hander to avoid Hamilton, with the Mercedes suddenly appearing on his inside.

Ocon spun around and Bottas was left with nowhere to go, spinning in sync with the Renault as he avoided contact – although the Mercedes driver later tagged Ocon into a second spin, giving him a left-rear puncture, as he lost the rear of his W11 at the Turn 9 left-hander later on lap one.

Stroll and Perez surged clear, with Hamilton up to third from sixth on the grid, but he slid off at Turn 9 and was jumped by the fast-starting Vettel, who was up from P11 on the grid, and the recovering Verstappen.

At the end of lap one of 58, Stroll had a lead of 3.6 seconds over Perez, which he set about extending to over five seconds with a series of fastest laps over the next few tours before the Mexican driver started to ease back towards his teammate.

After Leclerc had proved the time was right to take intermediates with a stop from P14 on lap six, the leaders started to come in two laps later, led by Vettel and Hamilton from third and fifth – by which time Hamilton had become the fastest driver on track.

When they came in on lap eight, Verstappen was unleashed from behind Vettel and he insisted on staying out on his full wets until lap 11, two laps after Stroll had come in and easily retained the net lead.

Perez pitted the lap ahead of Verstappen, but had a slow right front change, and when the Red Bull finally came in – with Albon waiting until lap as the last of the leaders to change tyres – Verstappen just manage to jump ahead of Vettel, fractionally behind Perez.

Stroll’s lead once the stops had shaken out was up to 10.7 seconds, with the race then neutralised on lap 13 by the virtual safety car as Antonio Giovinazzi – who had crashed on the way to the grid ahead of the race, as did George Russell – pulled over to retire on the straight down the hill from Turn 8.

When the race resumed two laps later, the Red Bull drivers were able to fire their tyres up best of the leaders, with Verstappen harrying Perez and Albon easily passing Vettel at Turn 7 on lap 16 after Hamilton had locked up and slid off at Turn 12 – the track’s main passing point – the lap the VSC ended.

Verstappen had a chance to pass Perez when the Racing Point slipped out of Turn 9 on lap 18, after he had begun to make significant in-roads into Stroll’s lead, but after the Red Bull looked to Perez’s inside of the Turn 11 kink he shot out on the kerbs on the outside and lost the rear, spinning off at high speed and falling behind Albon, Vettel and Hamilton.

As he had flat-spotted his tyres, Verstappen had to pit for another set of inters, falling to eighth with Albon then homing in on Perez as Hamilton struggled to stay with Vettel as the teams started to think about switching to dry tyres.

By lap 24, Perez had whittled Stroll’s lead down to the four-second mark, with Albon following closely behind before then fading back over the next five laps as he struggled with the inters starting to wear on the drying track.

The tread falling away on the green-walled tyres seemed to favour Vettel and Hamilton, as they started to home in on the leaders as the race approached the halfway stage, when Leclerc again triggered another round of stops as he pitted for more inters from ninth.

His pace encouraged Vettel to pit as well, with Albon then gifting Hamilton third with spin at Turn 4 on lap 34, after which he immediately pitted.

Up front, Perez was suddenly closing right up to Stroll, getting with one second – DRS had been activated on lap 30 – as Racing Point considered whether to take the fresh inters or leave its drivers out.

But with Hamilton suddenly looming and the Ferraris flying on their new tyres, Stroll pitted on lap 36, coming out fourth, behind Verstappen – a factor again thanks to his early second stop.

Hamilton instructed Mercedes to leave him out and by the start of lap 37 he was within one second of Perez’s car, then making a simple DRS pass on the long run to Turn 12 to take P1, which he had in the opening laps been nearly a pitstop behind.

The champion quickly dropped Perez, who also did not pit for a second set of inters, building a gap on nearly 20 seconds over the next ten laps.

In the pack behind, Vettel, now being followed by the charging Leclerc, attacked a struggling Stroll into Turn 12 on lap 39, and when the former leader fought back at the left-hander, he slid deep and was passed by both Ferraris – then demoted at the same spot by Albon and Carlos Sainz on the next two laps.

Leclerc was on the move again on lap 40 when he passed Vettel with DRS on the run to Turn 12 and he quickly gapped his teammate over the next few tours, the period where Sainz passed Albon for fifth and the gaps between the leaders spread out significantly.

Despite the threat of rain returning in the closing stages, Hamilton, after Mercedes considered pitting him for a safety stop given his gap over Perez, cruised home to win by a comfortable 31.6 seconds.

Leclerc had slipped off the road at Turn 4 as the race entered its final stages, but he had enough in hand over Vettel to stay third, where he seemed destined to finish before the gap to Perez closed rapidly over the final laps.

Perez went deep at Turn 9 on the last lap and that gave Leclerc the chance to attack for second coming into Turn 12, but the Ferrari went too deep, which allowed Perez to stay in front and the suddenly close Vettel to nip ahead into third.

Leclerc therefore finished fourth ahead of Sainz, with Verstappen recovering to sixth ahead of Albon despite having another spin as they lapped the spun Kimi Raikkonen off the road at Turn 4.

Lando Norris demoted Stroll to ninth when the former leader slipped off the road at Turn 1 late on, with Daniel Ricciardo, who also spun while battling Norris a few laps before, rounding out the top ten.

Bottas ended up a lapped P14, spinning a further three times – five in total – as he struggled in a race where he had to beat Hamilton by eight points to keep the title fight alive.

He came in to take new inters in the closing stages after his teammate had put him a lap down, but his pace did not match Hamilton’s until the very last lap.

Kevin Magnussen retired in the pits late on, having rejoined the race after being released from his second stop with a suspected loose wheel – which will be investigated after the race.

Romain Grosjean and Nicholas Latifi also retired in the pits a few laps after they had clashed and spun off.

Verstappen also faces a post-race investigation for possibly crossing the pit exit line after his second stop.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in becoming this season’s world champion and equalling Michael Schumacher’s achievement. This is a historical moment in the sport by becoming a legend. Fantastic to see Sebastian Vettel back on the podium as it has been a while since he last finished in the top 3. It was so nice to see the champions giving respect after a chaotic race. Do feel sorry for Lance Stroll. After leading the most laps in the Racing Point, he had to settle for P9. His teammate Sergio Perez at least gave the team a solid amount of racing points with P2.

Turkish Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42:19.313
2 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 31.633
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 31.960
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 33.858
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 34.363
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 44.873
7 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 46.484
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:01.259
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:12.353
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:35.460
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 lap
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
13 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
14 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari –
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –
– Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes –
– Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari –

Stroll takes first ever pole position in dramatic qualifying session

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll scored his first ever pole position by beating Max Verstappen to take a shock maiden pole in a wet and dramatic qualifying session for Formula 1’s 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.

The session was heavily disrupted, with Q1 suspended for nearly 45-minutes after the rain intensified following the opening ten minutes, and when it did get going again it was quickly red-flagged for a second time when Romain Grosjean became stuck in the Turn 1 gravel after spinning off in his Haas.

Verstappen largely led the way throughout the qualifying session, with Esteban Ocon spending the long Q1 delay at the head of the times after impressing during the initial running, be he appeared to be caught out by a Q3 switch from wets to intermediates.

The Red Bull Racing driver’s first Q3 lap was a one minute, 52.326 seconds, which was over two seconds slower than Verstappen had gone to top Q2, but he looked to be going massively faster with two opening purple sectors on his next lap.

But Verstappen abandoned that run after Sergio Perez had shot to P1 with a one minute, 52.037 seconds using the green-walled inters, and so Verstappen came in to take that tyre.

But he although Verstappen found time at the very end of Q3, he was not in command as he had been before, with Perez and Racing Point suddenly looking to be the pole favourites.

But Perez, who had spun on his next lap after seizing P1, was eventually shuffled down to third after Stroll, who had headed out on the wets early on in Q3 in a different approach to his teammate, put in a one minute, 47.765 seconds to rise to the front.

Verstappen had to find a way past Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo before he final run, where he climbed from third to second, but wound up 0.29 seconds behind Stroll.

Alex Albon took fourth for Red Bull ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who stayed on the wet tyres throughout Q3.

Lewis Hamilton was the lead Mercedes in sixth, having trailed behind teammate Valtteri Bottas throughout the sessions leading up to Q3 and during their initial laps on the wets in the last session.

But after Mercedes called its drivers to take the inters, Hamilton was able to improve more, as Bottas set a personal best on his final run but still ended up down in ninth.

Ocon and Raikkonen ended up ahead of the Mercedes, with Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top ten.

Q2 ran uninterrupted throughout, with the drivers finding chunks of time with each lap they set.

Verstappen led the way, nearly two seconds clear of anyone else, while the Alfa Romeo cars reached Q3 for the first time in 2020.

All of the eliminated runners set personal bests on their final laps, but they could not improve by enough, headed by Lando Norris in P11.

Norris and teammate Carlos Sainz had run with the inters at the start of Q2, but came in for wets ahead of their final runs.

This took them inside the two-minute mark, but they were still big chunk behind the top 10 cutoff, as Norris finished nearly 0.7 seconds slower than Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel split the McLarens in P12, with Charles Leclerc also out in Q2 in P14, despite his strong pace in the dry practice sessions on Friday, and his P2 in FP3.

Pierre Gasly was knocked out in P15 despite a late visit to the AlphaTauri pits to take fresh wets, while Sainz faces a post-qualifying investigation after possibly impeding Perez during one run in Q2.

In Q1, Kevin Magnussen was eliminated in P16 as he was caught behind several incidents following the second red flag, one of which was Daniil Kvyat spinning at Turn 3, which cost him the chance to escape the opening segment as he complained about poor visibility.

Kvyat therefore ended up out in P17, ahead of George Russell, who also lost time running behind the incidents after the second restart – the second of which was Nicholas Latifi spinning off exiting the middle apex of Turn 8 and beaching his Williams in the gravel on the outside.

Russell will start last after his replacement power unit parts will drop him to the rear of field, which will boost Grosjean and Latifi a spot each from P19 and P20.

Verstappen and Albon headed Q1 with the only times under two minutes – as they lapped at the head of the field after the second restart, ahead of the two incidents taking place in their wake.

All laps completed by drivers passing the yellows flying for Kvyat’s spin and Latifi’s beached Williams will be investigated after the session, which could yet change the order for the grid.

The was also a strange incident at the start of Q2, where the session was allowed to get underway despite Latifi’s Williams still being craned away.

So such an exciting and dramatic qualifying session. Congratulations to Lance Stroll in scoring his first pole position in Formula 1 and to Racing Point with a top three thanks to Sergio Perez. As for Max Verstappen, he was unlucky to miss out on P1 but his speed was really impressive following the practice sessions and the two segments in qualifying.

Turkish Grand Prix qualifying positions:
1 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:47.765
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:48.055
3 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:49.321
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:50.448
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:51.595
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:52.560
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:52.622
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:52.745
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:53.258
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:57.226
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:54.945
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:55.169
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:55.410
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:56.696
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:58.556
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 2:08.007
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 2:09.070
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 2:12.909
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2:21.611
20 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 2:10.017

Hamilton victorious at Imola as Mercedes wins constructors’ title

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton beat Valtteri Bottas to victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, where Mercedes clinched their seventh constructors’ title, as a puncture took out Max Verstappen.

Hamilton easily survived a five-lap shootout to the finish following the Red Bull’s dramatic spinning retirement, racing away from Bottas, who had led the early stages before losing ground due to floor damage as he ran ahead of Verstappen.

At the start, Bottas comfortably led away on the long run to the Tamburello chicane, but Hamilton, although he reacted well, lost ground to Verstappen as they progressed through their acceleration away from the grid.

Verstappen was alongside by the time they arrived for the braking zone for the left first part of Tamburello and he easily moved into second place, with Hamilton even forced to defend slightly against Daniel Ricciardo, who had moved up fourth when Pierre Gasly was crowded out by the second Mercedes ahead on the approach to the race’s real first corner.

The top three quickly raced clear, much as they have at many other events this season, with Hamilton tracking Verstappen within a second early on, before falling back out of DRS range after he had reported difficulty following the Red Bull.

By the start of lap eight of 63, Ricciardo was already over ten seconds off first place, as the top three were able lap in the 1m19s bracket – more than a second quicker than the rest at this stage.

Bottas gradually edged his lead up to the two-second mark by the start of lap 16, where he was told to push as the soft-starting runners behind the top three began to pit to get rid of their suffering rubber.

Valtteri set a string of fastest laps in the one minute, 18 seconds, with Verstappen only able to reach that pace two laps later, with the Red Bull coming in at the end of lap 18 to take the hard compound tyres.

Bottas followed him in on the following tyre, easily rejoining in front, while Hamilton was told he would be extending his stint in a bid to jump Verstappen.

Hamilton had been nearly two seconds behind the Red Bull before it stopped, and so now Mercedes concentrated on how to get the world champion back into second place.

He produced a series of fastest laps, briefly reaching the one minute, 17 seconds, before Mercedes asked if he could go considerably longer as he reached the rear of the pack to lap the backmarkers.

Bottas, who was informed he had picked up floor damage on the left-hand side of his car in the second lap, possibly as a result of striking debris from another car, was just keeping Verstappen out of DRS range, but was regularly lapping slower than his teammate, before being told he was “one-second unsafe” to Hamilton on lap 30.

The lap before, Esteban Ocon had pulled over on the run to the Variante Alta with a suspected gearbox problem, and as the Renault was being recovered, race control opted to activate the virtual safety car.

This gave Hamilton the chance to pit and he rejoined easily still in the lead, with a near four-second margin to his teammate.

In the second half of the race, Hamilton quickly extended his lead over Bottas as he lapped in the low one minute, 18 seconds, reaching a 10-second advantage at the end of lap 40.

As Hamilton was untroubled up front, Bottas had to fend off Verstappen with his hobbled car.

He was able to stay ahead despite dipping his wheels into the gravel trap on the outside of the two Rivazza turns on lap 36, but when he went deeper into the gravel at the same spot six laps later, Verstappen got his chance to retake second.

He used DRS to close on the momentum-robbed Mercedes, and roared ahead around the outside on the approach to Tamburello at the start of the next lap.

Verstappen immediately reached Hamilton’s pace, but was unable to close his 13 seconds lead before he dramatically retired from the race on lap 51, when a sudden puncture of the right-rear of his car spun him off and out in the gravel at the Villeneuve chicane, coming to rest with his right-rear tyre destroyed.

Bottas pitted for used softs immediately as the safety car was called, but Hamilton was forced to wait an extra lap, and just rejoined ahead of his teammate, warned urgently to respect the delta time to avoid a penalty.

The race restarted on lap 58 – extended after George Russell crashed while following the safety car on the approach to the first part of the Acqua Minerali double-right, going into the wall on the outside of the track and out of P10.

This was such a disappointing result for Russell as he was about to score his first championship point for Williams. But alas, this crash under the safety car was heartbreaking.

Hamilton streaked clear from a 0.6 seconds lead at the restart, lowering the fastest lap considerably in the final tours, setting it for good on the last lap, to win by 5.7 seconds over Bottas and seal Mercedes’ seventh constructors title in succession.

In the pack behind, Ricciardo took what had at one stage looked like an unlikely best-of-the-rest finish in third for Renault.

The Australian was boosted up to the final podium spot by not stopping under the safety car, while Sergio Perez, who had risen up ahead of Ricciardo from P11 on the grid, starting on the advantageous mediums and running longer in the first stint as a result, did come in.

That dropped Perez back behind Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, with Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris also taking fresh soft rubber during the interruption.

Kvyat used it best, shooting up to fourth when the race resumed – including a brave pass on the outside up the hill to the Piratella turn – but he could not cut into Ricciardo’s advantage and finished 0.8 seconds adrift at the flag.

Leclerc held onto fifth, with Perez sixth after passing Albon at the Villeneuve chicane and the Red Bull spinning down to last place on the exit.

Sainz was seventh ahead of his teammate Norris, with Alfa Romeo pair Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi rising up from P18 and last on the grid to take the final points positions.

Raikkonen ran longest of anyone before stopping, getting into the points after the two late crashes, with the safety car boosting Giovinazzi who had run the reverse strategy to his teammate, stopping early after starting on the softs.

Nicholas Latifi finished 0.7 seconds off the first point of his Formula 1 career in P11, leading home Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean – who all stopped under the safety car while the Williams did not (Stroll knocking over his Racing Point jack-man as he slid into his pitbox with cold brakes).

The other non-finishers were Kevin Magnussen, who retired in the pits after reporting his car’s upshifts were giving him a headache, and Gasly, who also came into retire – in his case on lap seven

So congratulations to Mercedes in winning this year’s constructors title. That’s seven consecutive times in the turbo-hybrid era. Incredible achievement in this sport.

Imola race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28:32.430
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 5.783
3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 14.320
4 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 15.141
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 19.111
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 19.652
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 20.230
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 21.131
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 22.224
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 26.398
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 27.135
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 28.453
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 29.163
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 32.935
15 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 57.284
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari DNF
– Esteban Ocon Renault DNF
– Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda DNF

Bottas takes pole position at Imola

Valtteri Bottas rises to the challenge to his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position for Formula 1’s 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, with Max Verstappen third despite needing a rapid Q2 spark plug change.

Both Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on the medium Pirelli, giving them an expected additional strategy advantage over the rest of the top ten runners in the race.

Hamilton had the advantage after the opening runs in Q3 had been completed on the soft compound, with his one minute, 13.781 seconds putting him 0.031 seconds clear of Bottas despite the defending world champion dipping his rear wheels into the gravel exiting the final corner.

But Bottas responded on the second Q3 run, beating Hamilton to the fastest time in the first sector by just over 0.1 seconds, and then holding on for the rest of the lap to claim pole by just a tiny margin on 0.097 seconds.

Verstappen took up third position but was 0.567 seconds, with his former Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly taking an impressive fourth for AlphaTauri.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Renault, with Alex Albon sixth after a complex session containing a spin and a track limits violation – something that applied to several drivers down the grid.

Charles Leclerc was seventh for Ferrari’s third home race of the revised 2020 season, ahead of Daniil Kvyat and the McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, who rounded out the top ten in Q3.

In Q2, Sergio Perez was eliminated when Albon leapt up the order with his final lap in the middle segment, after the Red Bull driver had had to switch from the mediums to softs following a spin at the exit of the Variante Alta chicane.

Esteban Ocon took P12, ahead of Williams George Russell, who was P11 after he’d completed his final lap before being shuffled back.

But Russell will start ahead of Sebastian Vettel after the Ferrari driver lost his best time in Q2, his last flying effort, for running too wide out of Variante Alta – after he too had attempt to get through on the mediums in the early Q2 running.

Lance Stroll also lost a time for running wide at Variante Alta, but it was not his personal best in Q2 as he nevertheless ended up P15 and out.

In Q1, Bottas and Albon only jumped up the order on their final runs after losing earlier times for exceeding track limits at the exit of the Piratella corner at the top of the hill in the second sector, while Hamilton lost what would have been the segments best time for the same infraction late-on.

The Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were the highest placed of the drivers eliminated after the opening session, with the latter running wide into the gravel trap out of the second Rivazza turn – the track’s last corner.

Then came Kimi Raikkonen, who lost a lap time good enough to get through, which would have eliminated Stroll in Q1, for running wide out of exiting Variante Alta – although the Finn insisted over his team radio his “left wheels were on the kerbs”.

Nicholas Latifi and home hero Antonio Giovinazzi brought up the rear of the field, with the latter setting a personal best on his final run, which was still not enough to lift him out of last place.

So well done Valtteri Bottas in taking pole position from Lewis Hamilton. Hopefully he has the confidence to take victory and fight his Mercedes teammate to the championship.

Qualifying positions, Imola:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.609
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.706
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:14.176
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.502
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:14.520
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:14.572
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.616
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.696
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:14.814
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:14.911
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.061
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:15.201
13 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:15.323
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.385
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.494
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:15.918
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:15.939
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’15.953
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:15.987
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.208

Hamilton achieves record-breaking achievement with 92 race victories

Hamilton-Portuguese-GP-2020-winner

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 92nd Formula 1 victory, becoming the most successful driver in the history of the sport.

As light rain fell on the first lap, Hamilton slipped off the track and fell behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas, but was able to recover to take his eighth win of 2020 and with it the outright record for Formula wins on 92, with Max Verstappen completing the Portuguese Grand Prix podium after clashing with Sergio Perez on the dramatic opening lap.

At the start, Hamilton held the lead off the line as Bottas made a slow getaway from the right-hand side of the grid, away from the racing line, which meant he dropped behind Verstappen into Turn 1.

But the Red Bull ran slightly wide on the exit, which allowed Bottas to move to the inside and pushed his way back into second at the tight, right-hand Turn 3.

Verstappen had to run so wide on the exit he lost momentum and Perez came alongside, with the pair making contact through the kink of Turn 4, which spun the Racing Point around and down to last – in a clash that the race stewards decided not worthy of investigation.

A few metres up ahead, Hamilton locked up into Turn 5 and slide wide, which allowed Bottas to nip by into the lead as they ran back up the hill into the second sector, where both Mercedes, struggling to fire up the temperature in their medium tyres as spots of rain began to fall, were passed by Carlos Sainz.

The McLaren driver had shot off the grid from seventh on the grid, using the grip advantage from his soft tyres and capitalising on the Verstappen/Perez collision before surging into the lead, with his teammate Lando Norris following him up the order from eighth to run fourth at the end of lap one.

Sainz’s lead was one-second at the end of lap one of 66 and he continued to pull away from the Mercedes drivers, bit-by-bit, over the next three laps.

But by lap five the Mercedes drivers had got their tyres up to temperature and back to quickly haul him back in, with Bottas sweeping back into the lead at the start of lap six around the outside line into T1.

Hamilton came by at the same place at the start of the next lap, with Sainz by this stage struggling for grip on his softs.

Verstappen had recovered from his first lap dramas to pass Norris and then follow the Mercedes cars back by Sainz by the start of lap eight, having set an early fastest lap as he began his fightback.

But by this stage Verstappen, also on the softs, was 4.4 seconds off the lead and he was not able to show better pace, quickly falling further way.

Bottas appeared to be able to hold Hamilton at bay, with the world champion complaining about the feeling of his left-front medium, the tyre under most pressure around Portimao, as they lapped clear of the rest in the low one minute, 22 seconds and medium-to-high one minute, 21 seconds.

But a series of fastest laps from Hamilton between lap 15 and 17 got him close to his teammate, and two laps later he was all over his title rival’s W11, getting back into the lead with a DRS run at the start of lap 20.

Bottas stole to the inside, running close to the pitwall, but it did not disrupt Hamilton’s run and he easily took first as he swept in Turn 1.

Hamilton rapidly pulled away from Bottas, getting his lead up to three seconds by the start of lap 23, with Verstappen nowhere near a position to threaten the Mercedes supremacy.

Verstappen then pitted to take the medium tyres, dropping back to sixth as he switched to the harder rubber, having had Charles Leclerc start to close in on his third position for he pitted.

Throughout the middle third of the race, Hamilton was able to lap consistently in the one minute, 20 seconds, with Bottas not able to get into that bracket until lap 34 – by which time Hamilton was eight seconds clear – with the Finn also reporting a dash warning to cool his car.

Mercedes had instructed Hamilton to stretch his opening stint on the mediums, which he did up to lap 40 with his lead was approaching 10 seconds, when he came into take hard tyres – despite insisting his existing tyres could go further.

Hamilton was told he had “cleared the field” and he duly pitted, retaking first when Bottas came in a lap later – with the second Mercedes also being given hards despite Bottas considering taking softs to run an alternative strategy to his teammate.

At the pit exit, which feeds directly into the high-speed Turn 1, Bottas had to slow to allow the fast-approaching Kimi Raikkonen and George Russell, which cost him time and he lost further ground coming out of the Turn 5 hairpin as he appeared to struggle for grip and tyre temperature.

Bottas’s issues meant Hamilton’s lead rose immediately to over 11 seconds, and a series of rapid times in the low one minute, 20 seconds took the world champion’s advantage towards 15 seconds.

He continued to pull away, with Bottas finally able to match Hamilton has they swapped what were then fastest laps of the race.

But Hamilton was then able to extended his gap further, despite reporting feeling some cramp in his right calf during the late stages, taking the fastest lap in the one minute, 18 seconds towards the end, as he surged clear to win by 25.5 seconds.

Verstappen briefly looked under threat from Leclerc when Ferrari stopped on lap 35, but the Monegasque driver could not compete on his hard tyres and a nine second gap between the pair became 30.8 seconds at the flag.

Pierre Gasly, who had been able to keep his softs alive early as the McLarens faded from their high opening positions, took fourth – triumphing in a firm fight with the recovering Perez in the final laps.

Perez had completed a long second stint on the mediums after stopping at the end of the first lap following his clash with Verstappen, but the red-walled softs he took for a third stint to the flag gave up and he was passed by the AlphaTauri when the leaders were on lap 64, a lap after Perez had defended late to the inside of Turn 1 in a move that is under investigation by the stewards.

Sainz was able to demote Perez to seventh a lap after Gasly had swept by in fifth around the outside of Turn 1, with the Renault pair Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo taking eighth and ninth.

Ocon had run until lap 53 on his starting mediums, with Ricciardo fighting Gasly in the middle phase of the race before dropping back and ending behind his teammate when he finally stopped.

Sebastian Vettel rose from P15 on the grid to take the final point in tenth.

Norris came home P13, having fallen down the order in a clash with Stroll, when the Racing Point driver had tried a wild move on the far outside into Turn 1 in the early stages.

The pair collided as Stroll turned in on the McLaren, for which he was given a five-second penalty for causing the collision, later getting the same time penalty for repeated track limits before he retired late-on due to damage he had picked up in the crash and subsequent high-speed spin.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in setting a new record in the sport with wins. He has a comfortable lead in the drivers’ championship and title number seven is within sights after achieving the most victories in Formula 1.

Mercedes-Portuguese-GP-2020-winner

Portuguese Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29:56.828
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 25.592
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 34.508
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:05.312
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1 lap
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1 lap
8 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 lap
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 lap
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
12 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1 lap
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1 lap
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2 laps
19 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 2 laps
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes DNF

Hamilton takes pole from Portuguese Grand Prix pace setter Bottas

Hamilton-qualifying-Portugal-2020

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 97th pole position in Formula 1, edging out his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas – who set the pace in every session leading up to the top ten shootout. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen tried his best and will start P3.

After a 30-minute delay to fix a drain cover, the teams were unleashed for the first-ever contemporary Formula 1 qualifying at the Algarve International Circuit.

In the top ten shootout, Bottas set the bar at one minute, 16.986 seconds, 0.047 seconds quicker than Hamilton. For the second runs, Mercedes switched to the medium tyres, with Hamilton taking provisional pole with one minute, 16.934 seconds, to pip Bottas by a tiny margin of 0.052 seconds.

Bottas struck back with a lap of one minute, 16.754 seconds, only for Hamilton to respond with one minute, 16.652 seconds on his second flying lap (Bottas only did a single run) that sealed pole position.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start third, having briefly split the Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Sergio Perez qualified fifth for Racing Point, ahead of Alex Albon’s Red Bull. The McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were next up, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who didn’t run after his Q2 off.

In Q2, Bottas was fastest on the medium tyres with one minute, 16.466 seconds, 0.358 seconds faster than Hamilton on similar compound. Verstappen was 0.572 seconds off in third, complaining of “no grip” despite using the softs, while Ricciardo escaped a spin at Turn 11 on his last lap to just make Q3.

Knocked out at this point were Renault’s Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll in the Racing Point, Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri, an impressive George Russell for Williams and a less impressive Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, whose gamble to make Q3 on mediums, like teammate Leclerc, failed by a long way.

In Q1, Hamilton set the fastest time at one minute, 16.828 seconds, 0.051 seconds quicker than Verstappen, with Bottas a tenth off the pace.

Falling at the first hurdle were the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, the soon-to-be-dumped Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, and Nicholas Latifi in the Williams.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with the pole position. That’s his 97th in Formula 1. Incredible qualifying performance from the six-time world champion. Feel sorry for Valtteri Bottas, who set the pace in every session leading up to Q3, but when it matter, his Mercedes teammate found that extra edge to go on top.

Portuguese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.652
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.754
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:16.904
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.090
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.223
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:17.437
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.520
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:17.525
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.803
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault –
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:17.614
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.626
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.728
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:17.788
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.919
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.201
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.323
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:18.364
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:18.508
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:18.777

Hamilton equals Schumacher’s race victories at the Nürburgring

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton has equalled the great Michael Schumacher with the all-time Formula 1 win record by taking victory in the Eifel Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen, while Valtteri Bottas retired with a mechanical issue.

Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium for Renault ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez after a late safety car spoiled what looked like being a close run battle between the pair over the final laps.

At the start, Hamilton made the better getaway and pulled alongside his teammate approaching the first corner.

The Black Arrows both went deep into the right-hander, going wide into the runoff on the exit as Bottas hung on around the outside, which gave him the inside line into the Turn 2 left and he was able to muscle back into the lead.

Bottas shot clear of Hamilton around the rest of the opening tour, making sure he was immediately out of DRS range, extending his lead gradually over the next few laps.

But Bottas’s lead never exceeded two seconds as he, Hamilton and Verstappen quickly moved clear of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, which was holding up Ricciardo and Alex Albon in the other Red Bull.

The three leaders were the only drivers able to lap in the one minute, 32 seconds during the early laps on the softs, with Leclerc nearly 20 seconds off the lead by the time Ricciardo passed him around the outside of Turn 2 on lap nine of 60.

By this stage Hamilton had begun to erode Bottas’s advantage, and just after the Briton had gained 0.3 seconds on lap 12, the leader locked up heavily at the start of the next tour and went deep at Turn 1.

Hamilton immediately stole to the outside of Turn 1 and took first place, with Verstappen quickly over the rear of Bottas, who pitted at the end of lap 13 to replace his ruined softs with mediums.

This proved to be even more costly for Bottas a few laps later, when the virtual safety car was called as George Russell pulled off to retire his damaged car, sustained when Kimi Raikkonen tipped to Williams onto its left-hand wheels when he lost the rear of his Alfa Romeo following Sebastian Vettel closely in Turn 1, on the run to the hairpin.

The VSC meant Hamilton, who had pulled further clear of Verstappen with a strong of rapid laps in the one minute, 31 seconds after taking the lead, and Verstappen were able to pit and gain significantly compared to Bottas.

Things then got worse for Bottas when he dropped behind Lando Norris and Sergio Perez, who were yet to stop having been running behind Ricciardo before the Renault driver pitted under the virtual safety car, reporting a loss of power.

The issue got worse over the next lap despite Mercedes issuing a string of reset instructions and he was forced come in at the end of lap and retire with a suspected MGU-H problem.

Verstappen had gained two seconds over Hamilton as Red Bull gained with a faster pitstop, and he briefly got under two seconds behind the Mercedes as they both lapped in the early 1m30s, but the world champion was quickly able to re-establish a clear lead.

As Hamilton gradually extended his advantage over the middle phase of the race, taking it over ten seconds for the first time at the end of lap 42, the attention turned to the fight for third.

Ricciardo’s pit stop under the virtual safety car meant he would have to go long to the finish on a one-stopper, with his rival for the final rostrum spot becoming Perez when Norris became hobbled with a power problem that McLaren seemingly could not rectify with a stream of settings change instructions.

Perez, who ran long in the first stint to lap 30 on his softs, then caught Leclerc, who had pitted after being passed by Ricciardo early-on, and it was the Perez’s turn to lose time behind the Ferrari.

When he did get into the chicane on lap 35 he was 17.5 seconds behind the Renault, and quickly set about eating into its advantage.

Perez closed four seconds over the next five laps, but the race was then interrupted again approaching the race’s final quarter when Norris pulled off the track at Turn 6, with his right-rear bodywork smoking, and the safety car was called out.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault pulled the top three in as soon as they could, with Racing Point initially leaving Perez out on his mediums before he too came in and switched to the softs, which the leaders had also taken.

The safety car stayed out until lap 50, with Hamilton and Verstappen complaining about its speed as they fought to keep heat in their tyres on another cold day in the Eifel mountains.

When it did come in, Hamilton had dropped Verstappen at the final chicane, with the Dutchman actually attacked by Ricciardo into Turn 1, which he was able to rebuff.

The two leaders alone were able to shoot into the one minute, 28 seconds – with Hamilton setting a strong of fastest laps to again build up his lead – as Ricciardo, after briefly coming under pressure from Perez following his failed look to take second, gradually eased clear of Perez.

The top positions therefore remained stable over the final few laps as Hamilton ran clear to take his record-equalling victory by 4.4 seconds, as Verstappen set the fastest lap on the final tour.

Ricciardo came home to take his first podium since winning the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix with a 1.4 seconds advantage over Perez.

Carlos Sainz finished fifth for McLaren ahead of Pierre Gasly, who passed Leclerc after the safety car as the Ferrari driver had run behind the top five due to not stopping during the final race suspension.

Nico Hulkenberg rose from last to finish eighth in place of the unwell Lance Stroll – his cause aided by the safety car, which also helped Romain Grosjean take his first points of 2020 as he finished ninth on a one-stopper, holding off Antonio Giovinazzi, who had stopped just before the safety car.

Sebastian Vettel 11th after spinning while trying to pass Giovinazzi in the early stages, and then having a clash with Kevin Magnussen in the final laps (with the Haas driver finishing P13 behind Raikkonen, who was given a ten seconds penalty for causing the Russell crash, but nevertheless claimed the record for most Formula 1 starts from Rubens Barrichello by taking the start).

Albon and Esteban Ocon were the other non-finishers as they stopped with suspected power unit and hydraulics problems respectively in the pits, with the Red Bull driver having picked up a five-second penalty for taking Daniil Kvyat’s front wing off as he swept across going into the final corner during the early running.

Kvyat finished P15 behind Nicholas Latifi.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in scoring the most wins in the sport and equalling Michael Schumacher’s achievement with 91 race victories. As for Daniel Ricciardo, well deserved to score a podium for Renault. It’s been a while since the honey badger finished in the top 3. While super sub Nico Hulkenberg did a solid job to finish in the points for Racing Point.

Eifel Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35:49.641
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 4.470
3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 14.613
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 16.070
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 21.905
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 22.766
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 30.814
8 Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point-Mercedes 32.596
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 39.081
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 40.035
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 40.810
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 41.476
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 49.585
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 54.449
15 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 55.588
– Lando Norris McLaren-Renault DNF
– Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Esteban Ocon Renault DNF
– Valtteri Bottas Mercedes DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF

Bottas takes pole position at the Nürburgring

Valtteri Bottas scored his third pole position of the season at the Nürburgring, beating his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton while Nico Hulkenberg qualified last.

Mercedes maintained its perfect record in qualifying so far in 2020, but faced strong competition from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had topped Q1 and was just adrift of Hamilton at the head of the times in Q2.

Verstappen even led the way after the first runs in Q3, but Bottas rise to the challenge as the Mercedes drivers fired back on their second efforts.

Bottas ended up with the fastest middle sector on his final lap, a one minute, 25.269 seconds, which put him clear by 0.256 seconds as he shuffled Hamilton down to second, with the world champion ending up with the fastest time in the final sector.

Verstappen started his final lap with the quickest sector one time, but he faded as the lap wore on and he wound up 0.293 seconds adrift of pole.

Both Verstappen and Hamilton went slower in Q3 compared to their laps in the middle segment.

Charles Leclerc stunned Alex Albon to take fourth for Ferrari, with the Red Bull driver knocked down to fifth as a result.

All the leading cars will start Sunday’s race on the softs Pirelli, despite the Mercedes and Ferrari cars, and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, experimenting with the medium tyres early in Q2.

Ricciardo qualified sixth in Q3 ahead of his teammate Esteban Ocon, with Lando Norris qualifying eighth ahead of Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc’s late improvement to set the fifth fastest time in Q1 knocked out his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, who set a personal best on his final lap in the middle segment but wound up being shuffled down to P11.

Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat also improved on their final runs in Q2, but they were both knocked out in P12 and P13, while a last-gasp lap from Antonio Giovinazzi gave him P14 for Alfa Romeo ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

In Q1, Hulkenberg, who was always due to travel to the Nurburgring on Saturday to work for German broadcaster RTL before his late call-up to replace the unwell Stroll ahead of qualifying, was out early to learn the track in the Canadian’s RP20.

He completed a run of several laps on the softs as soon as the opening segment got under way and spent most of the session at the foot of the times, although he was briefly able to move up to P19 ahead of the final runs in Q1.

Hulkenberg’s final lap featured a deep moment at the first corner and brief lock ups on the right front and left front respectively at Turn 6 – the right-hander that runs down towards the hairpin – and on the approach to the final chicane.

He set a personal best but lost time in the final sector and wound up last, 0.204 seconds slower than Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Romain Grosjean missed the cut after having his best lap of the session – a one minute, 27.118 seconds – deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 4 in the shadow of the Mercedes grandstand that overlooks the corner and Turn 1.

The Haas driver was able to set another time in the closing moments but was shuffled down and out ahead of the Williams pair George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, as they finished P17 and P18.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas with pole. After winning the Russian Grand Prix, the momentum is looking good for Bottas. Bring on the racing action!

Qualifying positions, Eifel Grand Prix:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:25.269
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.525
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:25.562
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:26.035
5 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing-Honda 1:26.047
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:26.223
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:26.242
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:26.458
9 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:26.704
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:26.709
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.738
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:26.776
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:26.848
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:26.936
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:27.125
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:27.552
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:27.564
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:27.812
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:27.817
20 Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point-Mercedes 1:28.021

Bottas wins Russian Grand Prix following Hamilton penalty

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won his second Russian Grand Prix from Max Verstappen as his teammate Lewis Hamilton was served a double time penalty for pre-race practice start violation.

Hamilton completed two practice starts on his reconnaissance laps to the grid at Sochi including one towards the end of the pitlane exit, which was against the instructions issued in the pre-event race director’s notes issued by the FIA’s Michael Masi.

The world champion therefore went into the race under investigation, with the ruling issued during the first stint as he tried to defend his position on the soft tyres ahead of Bottas and Verstappen on their medium rubber.

At the start, Hamilton led away from pole as Bottas immediately moved past Verstappen on the run through the kink of Turn 1, with the polesitter then moving to defend the inside of the braking zone for Turn 2.

Bottas attacked around the outside and briefly got ahead, but his momentum carried him over the kerbs on the outside and he had to catch a brief slide moving over the kerbs, which allowed Hamilton to retake the lead running through the long left of Turn 3.

Verstappen was among several drivers who cut the runoff at Turn 2 and he was passed by Daniel Ricciardo going into the right of Turn 4, but he immediately retook the position at the next right-hander, with Ricciardo then losing fourth to his teammate Esteban Ocon as he slid out of Turn 7.

But the race was then suspended as Carlos Sainz Jr. had crashed following Verstappen through the mandated path to rejoin the track into Turn 3, with the McLaren hitting the wall on the outside of the marker boards hard with its left front and the wreckage sliding back across the track, forcing several drivers to check up.

A few moments later, Charles Leclerc clipped Lance Stroll with his left front as they exited Turn 4 and the Racing Point was pitched into the wall and out of the race, with the safety car deployed shortly afterwards.

The race restarted on lap six of 53, with Hamilton easily keeping hold of the lead as the there was little drama when the safety car pulled in and the drivers roared back to full speed.

Over the first stint, Hamilton and Bottas exchanged quicker times in the low one minute, 41 seconds and high one minute, 40 seconds, but the world champion was slowly able to extend his lead.

But the news soon came that he was being handed a pair of five-second penalties for his pre-race infraction, which meant he had to wait ten seconds before Mercedes could service his car at his first stop.

Hamilton came in on lap 16, two laps after telling Mercedes not to bring him in as he set a pair of fastest laps in the one minute, 39 seconds, where he had had a lead of 2.7 seconds.

He rejoined just outside the top ten, but crucially ahead of Riccardo, who had pitted a few laps earlier and was an undercut threat that Mercedes had to cover – much to its driver’s frustration.

Bottas immediately upped his pace with a string of fastest laps in the low one minute, 39 seconds, as he brought his medium tyre advantage to bear and edged away from Verstappen – who was also setting a series of personal bests, albeit a chunk slower than the Mercedes each lap.

Mercedes kept Bottas out until lap 26, one lap after Verstappen had come in to exchange his mediums for hards, and once the leader had taken his own white-walled tyres, he emerged with a lead of 9.7 seconds over the Red Bull, with Hamilton 15.4 seconds adrift of P1.

The top three were now considerably spread out, and the gaps got larger through the opening laps of the second stint, with Bottas quickly extending his lead above 12 seconds, while Hamilton dropped back to over ten seconds behind Verstappen.

A then fastest lap helped Bottas extend his lead up to 13.1 seconds, but as he adjusted his pace again Verstappen was able to close that down bit by bit, with the Mercedes remaining comfortable in the lead.

It came down to 5.5 seconds at the end of lap 50 as Bottas controlled his pace and then had to negotiate traffic, with Verstappen having to do the same in the final laps.

The two leaders exchanged fastest laps on the final tours, with Bottas claiming the extra point and then coming home 7.7 seconds clear.

Hamilton remained around ten seconds behind Verstappen for most of the closing laps, but faded further at the very end and finished 15 seconds behind the Red Bull.

Sergio Perez, who had fallen behind the Renaults at the start, finished fourth after taking advantage of Ocon and Ricciardo getting stuck behind Sebastian Vettel after their early stops, and he came home by himself, 7.8 seconds behind Hamilton.

Ricciardo finished fifth despite getting a five-second time penalty for cutting over the Turn 2 kerbs when being allowed by Ocon to attack, and then pass, Vettel in the middle phase of the race.

The Australian was able to create a gap large enough to remain ahead of Charles Leclerc once the penalty had been applied, with the Ferrari driver jumping up the order from P10 on the grid after completing a long first stint on the mediums – at one point running as high as second before he stopped for the hards.

Ocon came home seventh, just ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who had completed a similar strategy to Leclerc but starting on the hards, with Pierre Gasly leading home Alex Albon, who had stopped under the safety car.

Both Gasly and Albon completed two stoppers and enjoyed a lively scrap with Lando Norris – who finished down in 15th after taking his own second stop late on having pitted with Albon at the start – in the closing stages.

Albon was another driver to get a five-second penalty for cutting the Turn 2 runoff and not respecting the bollards – which were destroyed at one stage when Romain Grosjean went through them, causing a brief virtual safety car so the broken boards could be moved.

But Albon had enough time in hand over Antonio Giovinazzi to remain P10.

So well done for Valtteri Bottas in winning the Russian Grand Prix. This was his second victory this season. Yes, the penalty for his teammate cleared the path for Bottas to take the win. But can he fight Lewis Hamilton for the title? Let’s see what the other races has in store in terms of the championship.

Russian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34:00.364s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 7.729s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22.729s
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 30.558s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 52.065s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:02.186s
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:08.006s
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:08.740s
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:29.766s
10 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:37.860s
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1 lap
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +1 lap
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
19 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault Collision
20 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes Collision

Hamilton takes Russian Grand Prix pole

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position at Sochi despite the panic in not setting a Q2 lap following the crash of Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start the Russian Grand Prix in second, beating Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton also faces a post-qualifying investigation for a track limits violation – along with Nicholas Latifi, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen – in Q1, and is the only driver in the top three who will start the race on the soft Pirelli as a result of his Q2 near-miss.

In that session, where spots of rain were reported early on, Mercedes sent both of its cars out on the medium compound, as Red Bull did with Verstappen.

But both Hamilton and Bottas were forced to do second runs on the harder rubber as the former had his time deleted for a track limits violation at the final corner and the latter’s first effort was poor.

Bottas was then able set a time good enough to get him through to Q3, but Hamilton had to abort his second run when Vettel crashed at Turn 4 bringing out the red flag.

The Ferrari driver appeared to clip the kerb on the inside of the right hander and the rear quickly got away from him, spinning into the wall on the outside and knocking his front wing – which was struck by the closely following Leclerc – and his right front wheel.

When the session restarted, Mercedes sent Hamilton out on soft tyres, which means Bottas will start on the opposite strategy on the medium tyres along with Verstappen, who headed the pack urgently getting to the line to complete a final run with two minutes, 15 seconds on the clock after Vettel’s crash.

Verstappen was also running softs and looked to be improving on his previous Q2 best on the mediums, but he abandoned his run so he will take the start on the harder rubber, which is expected to be a better race tyre in what will be one-stop event.

Hamilton, who slide wide at Turn 2 on his out lap as he ran down the queue of cars desperately trying to make it into the top ten shootout, crossed the line with barely a second remaining on the clock.

But he was able race around and get through with the fourth fastest time in Q2, which was headed by Ricciardo, with the last lap set and knock out a frustrated Charles Leclerc as a result.

In Q3, Hamilton led the way with a one minute, 31.391 seconds, while Bottas had to close a 0.793 seconds gap after the opening runs in the final shootout.

Bottas did improve on his final run, despite clouting the kerb at the exit of Turn 2, but was still five tenths behind even before Hamilton completed his final lap – one minute, 31.304 seconds, which is a new track record and gives him his first pole in Sochi since 2014.

Verstappen set his final lap much later than the two Mercedes and was running fractionally behind Bottas in the opening two sectors before he surged ahead with a rapid final sector to join Hamilton on the front row.

Sergio Perez will start fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr, while Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounded out the top ten.

Daniil Kvyat took P12 for AlphaTauri ahead of Lance Stroll, who was pushed out of the queue before the urgent final Q2 laps with a suspected issue, and George Russell and Vettel.

Russell set his sole lap in Q2 when he ran solo during a mid-session lull before Vettel’s crash and he went 0.5 seconds quicker than his Q1 time to make it out of the opening segment for the first time in three races.

In Q1, Russell’s last-gasp improvement to reach Q2 knocked out Romain Grosjean, who will start P16, as the Ferraris scraped through in P14 and P15 in the opening segment.

Antonio Giovinazzi ended up P17 ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi, who, along with Grosjean, went into the final Q1 runs without a time set after being among the group of runners – also including Hamilton, Gasly and Magnussen – who had their opening laps deleted for cutting the kerbs at Turn 2.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified last for the race where he will equal Rubens Barrichello’s record for most Formula 1 starts – assuming he takes the start on Sunday – after spinning on his full lap.

Raikkonen went into a 360 spin after striking the orange track limits deterrent kerb at the Turn 2 apex, which looped him around and he toured slowly around the inside of the ensuing long Turn 3 to avoid disrupting those cars following the Alfa Romeo.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this 96th career pole position. The opportunity to match Michael Schumacher’s 91 victories is possible by starting at the front of the pack. Bring on the Russian Grand Prix racing action.

Russian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.304
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:31.867
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.956
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:32.317
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:32.364
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:32.550
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:32.624
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:32.847
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:33.000
10 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:33.008
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.239
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:33.249
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:33.364
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:33.583
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.609
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:34.592
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.594
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:34.681
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:35.066
20 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:35.267