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

5 thoughts to “Bottas wins Russian Grand Prix following Hamilton penalty”

  1. Russian Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas scored his second win of 2020 at the Russian Grand Prix, benefitting from a penalty for his polesitting team mate Lewis Hamilton that left the six-time champion third at the flag, as Max Verstappen claimed Red Bull’s first ever podium at Sochi in P2.

    Hamilton began the race on the back foot, after a pair of practice start infringements on his laps to the grid led to him being handed a 10s penalty mid-race, ruling him out of contention for the win, as he came home in P3.

    Bottas, meanwhile, had passed Verstappen for second at the race start, before benefitting from Hamilton’s penalty to enjoy an untroubled run to the chequered flag for the ninth win of his career, at the venue where he scored his first back in 2017. It would have been an important confidence booster for Bottas, too, with the Finn’s previous victory having come at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix back in July.

    Behind the podium positions, a quiet but effective race for Racing Point’s Sergio Perez saw him come home fourth, while despite having a five-second penalty hanging over him for not running through the Turn 3 rejoining bollards after going off the track, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo had enough pace in hand to maintain P5 at the flag, ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in sixth.

    Esteban Ocon passed his Renault team mate at the start for P4, but eventually fell back to the seventh place he started the race in at the chequered flag, ahead of home hero Daniil Kvyat.

    Rounding out the top 10, a late stop from the second AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly allowed him to battle through to P9, the Frenchman passing the Red Bull of Alex Albon, who came home P10, having started P15 after receiving a five-race penalty for changing his gearbox.

    Meanwhile, a chaotic race start saw Carlos Sainz hit the wall when trying to rejoin the track at Turn 3, the Spaniard ripping the front right corner off his car – while Lance Stroll was tagged by Charles Leclerc at Turn 4 and spun into the wall, bringing out an early Safety Car.

    Lewis Hamilton already had a few things going against him at the race start, with the red flag in Q2 in qualifying on Saturday having forced him to set his fastest lap in that segment on a set of soft tyres – meaning he started on the less-favoured rubber, compared to Verstappen and Bottas behind on the mediums – while he also knew full-well that the run down to Turn 2 is a slipstreamer’s haven.

    But there were more worries for Hamilton when he discovered ahead of the race that he was being investigated for doing a practice start outside of the designated area. He put those worries to the back of his mind at the race start proper, though, using the bite of the softs to help him launch strongly off the line.

    Bottas nipped passed Verstappen from P3 on the grid, dived into his team mate’s slipstream and had his nose ahead into Turn 2, but got a bad exit that allowed Hamilton to get back in front and hold the lead – Bottas having apparently been distracted by a large bee that hit his visor (no, seriously).

    Behind, as the pack piled into Turn 2, a number of runners were forced to run off the track and through the bollard designed to funnel them safely back onto the circuit. Verstappen was through first, but as Carlos Sainz tried to follow, he misjudged the angle and whacked the front left off his McLaren MCL35, taking him out of the race. Lance Stroll lasted just two corners longer, before a tap from behind from the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc at Turn 4 spun him into the wall and out of the race.

    The Safety Car was called, but not before Daniel Ricciardo, who’d briefly jumped to third ahead of Verstappen was re-passed by the Dutchman at Turn 5, before his team mate Esteban Ocon, who’d started P7, slipped through at Turn 7 to take fourth.

    Meanwhile, the big gainers at the start were the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who jumped to P9 and P10 from 16th and 18th on the grid – while the Safety Car allowed Lando Norris, George Russell and Alex Albon a ‘free’ pit stop, good for Albon who’d had to start in P15 on the soft tyres, after taking a five-place grid drop for a gearbox change (as had Williams’ Nicholas Latifi).

    Racing resumed on Lap 6, with Hamilton cleverly dropping the hammer when Bottas was negotiating the bump in Turn 15, meaning the Finn couldn’t accelerate cleanly. That allowed Hamilton enough space to lead the field unchallenged into Turn 2, with Bottas, Verstappen, Ocon, Ricciardo, Perez, Gasly and Leclerc the seven cars behind him.

    Hamilton quickly opened a gap of 1.5s over Bottas – but he needed it, with the stewards’ ruling coming on Lap 7 that Hamilton would need to serve a 10s time penalty for two practice start infringements – at 5s a pop. “Where’s that in the rule book?” demanded an angry Hamilton when he was told by race engineer Pete Bonnington. Unfortunately for him, it was Article 19.2 of the Race Director’s Event Notes…

    Lap 11 witnessed a nice sight as George Russell, Albon and Norris, having all pitted under that Safety Car, battled for position at the back of the pack, the first time the three friends had scrapped together on track – with Albon eventually getting past Russell for P16 when the Williams locked up into Turn 13, Norris then passing into Turn 2 on the next lap, with Russell forced to pit after flat-spotting his hard tyres on Lap 15.

    Mercedes gave the second-placed Bottas the hurry-up on Lap 12 of the race, telling him to close up to the about-to-be-penalised Hamilton in front, with Hamilton responding to his team mate’s pressure by upping his own pace. Hamilton’s soft tyres didn’t look great, though, but he vehemently told his team, “Do not stop me early!” before setting a string of fastest laps.

    He was eventually called in on Lap 16, serving his penalty before taking on hard tyres and emerging P11, as Bottas took over the lead, around 35 seconds up the road from Hamilton when the Briton rejoined.

    Hamilton was driving disgruntled, though, annoyed by the penalty and the team having brought him in early, as he saw it. As Bonnington tried to give him the lap time status of Verstappen up ahead, Hamilton snapped back: “I don’t want any info any more Bono. It doesn’t make any difference.”

    Ricciardo was passed for P5 by Perez on Lap 15, the Mexican going down the inside around the long Turn 3, with Ricciardo then pitting for hards, Ocon following his team mate in three laps later for the same tyre. The Frenchman in P8 then spent several laps bottled up behind the yet-to-stop Sebastian Vettel, with Renault eventually switching Ocon and Ricciardo around to give the Australian a chance to attack.

    Ricciardo got the move done on Vettel with a brilliant dive into Turn 13. But with the Australian having locked up and run off the track as he’d passed his team mate into Turn 2 earlier in the lap, the stewards handed Ricciardo a 5s time penalty for failing to go through the bollards when he rejoined. “Okay,” he said when he found out, “I’ll drive faster…”

    Verstappen pitted from second on Lap 25, emerging P4 and ahead of Hamilton in P5 on the hard tyres, the Red Bull driver then quickly jumping past the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat for P3, before Charles Leclerc pitted from P2 to give Verstappen that position again. Bottas pitted on Lap 26, meanwhile, easily retaining the lead.

    By Lap 32 of 53, then, it was Bottas with a 12s lead over Verstappen, himself 9s clear of Hamilton, with Perez, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Ocon, Kvyat, Raikkonen and Gasly rounding out the top 10 – Gasly then passing Raikkonen for ninth after several attempts on Lap 34.

    Bottas was looking serene at the front, banging in fastest laps seemingly for fun at a track that he’s always gone well at. “We’re losing six-tenths in a straight line to Bottas,” race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase told Verstappen with 18 laps of the race left to go. “Yeah,” replied Verstappen, “I’m just trying to do my own race.”

    It was all he could do. Although Verstappen ground Bottas’ lead down to less than 8s, no one could stop the Finn, with Bottas ultimately easing to his second win at the Sochi Autodrom, and his ninth with Mercedes – surpassing the great Juan Manuel Fangio’s tally with the Silver Arrows.

    It also ended an eight-race win-less run for Bottas, as he clawed back some valuable points in the championship race – taking the fastest lap bonus point to leave Russia with 11 points more than Hamilton.

    Verstappen, though, was pleased to split the Mercedes and take second, as opposed to Hamilton, who was visibly frustrated with third, having called his penalty “ridiculous” during the race. Nonetheless, he still heads Bottas by 44 points in the drivers’ standings.

    Behind the top three, after his move to claim a net P4 from Ricciardo earlier in the Grand Prix, Perez was barely conspicuous in the sole remaining Racing Point for the rest of the race, as he kept his head down for a stealthy fourth, his best classification of the season – while Ricciardo honoured his promise to drive faster, finishing well clear of Leclerc in fifth despite his penalty, Leclerc taking his best finish since the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix in Silverstone.

    After his immense start, Ocon didn’t appear to have the race pace of his team mate, as he narrowly held off a last-lap attack from Daniil Kvyat to come home seventh ahead of the Russian.

    Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who’d ultimately finish 17th of 18 after his strong start, had collided with the run-off bollards at Turn 3 after being passed by Vettel on Lap 42, bringing out a brief Virtual Safety Car as the polystyrene mess was cleared up. AlphaTauri brought Gasly into the pits under that VSC, perhaps misjudging how long the race would be neutralised for (it was just 26s).

    The stop dropped Gasly out of the top 10, but a brilliant recovery saw him pass Norris and Albon on track to make it back to P9 at the flag – with Albon claiming the final points-paying position, despite his own 5s penalty for missing the bollards after running off at Turn 2.

    Vettel, meanwhile couldn’t match the heroics of his team mate, as he ended up 13th, behind the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, both of those being Ferrari customer cars.

    For Bottas, though, Sochi felt like a race that he had to win, not only for his championship hopes but just to restore his faith in his ability to beat Hamilton. “A nice time to answer my critics,” he declared defiantly over team radio on his slowing down lap, before uttering his now famous catchphrase: “To whom it may concern, f*** you.”

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is two points away from receiving a race ban after Russia penalties. has the full story.

    Lewis Hamilton is just one incident away from a Formula 1 race ban after picking up two more penalty points on Sunday in Russia.

    Hamilton was handed two five-second time penalties during the Russian Grand Prix after he was found to have breached the FIA’s pre-race instructions regarding practice starts.

    Hamilton completed two illegal practice starts, including one at the very end of the pitlane exit road, that went against Michael Masi’s instructions issued earlier this week.

    He had been informed by Mercedes engineer Pete Bonnington that he could complete a second practice start at the end of the pit exit road.

    It left Hamilton with two five-second penalties, one per violation, with two separate sanctions being issued by the FIA stewards during the race.

    Hamilton served his 10-second time penalty at his pit stop during the race in Russia, but was left fuming by the ruling, calling it “ridiculous” and “bulls**t”.

    In the penalty bulletin, the stewards confirmed that Hamilton had been given one penalty on his FIA super licence for each incident.

    This takes Hamilton to 10 points for a 12-month period, leaving him just two penalty points shy of a one-race ban.

    Hamilton is not due to drop any penalty points until after the Turkish Grand Prix, which will mark 12 months since he picked up two for his late collision with Alexander Albon at in Brazil.

    Hamilton received four penalty points over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend earlier this year – two for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying, and two for another late-race incident with Albon – and two more for entering the pit lane while it was closed at the Italian Grand Prix.

    The FIA introduced the new guidelines for the 2014 season, but no driver has hit 12 points and received a ban in F1.

    The last ban awarded in F1 came in 2012 when Romain Grosjean was forced to sit out the Italian Grand Prix after causing a start-line crash at Spa.

    The penalty points system is also used in F2, where MP Motorsport driver Mahaveer Raghunathan was banned for one round last year after he hit the limit of 12.

  3. Russian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas says a “massive bee” thwarted first-lap pass attempt at Turn 2. has the details.

    Valtteri Bottas said a “massive bee” hitting his helmet under braking for Turn 2 in Sochi cost him the chance to pull off a first-lap pass on Lewis Hamilton.

    The Finn had got a good slipstream after the start and was set up to try to get around the outside of his Mercedes teammate at the first braking zone.

    But in the end he went in too deep, revealing that he had been distracted when a large insect smashed into his visor.

    “I obviously tried,” said Bottas, who in the end went on to claim victory after Hamilton was hit with two five-second penalties for practice start infringements.

    “I knew the start was going to be the first opportunity. Actually, it was a bit compromised because there was like a massive bee or something that hit my visor as I was braking.

    “I couldn’t really see when I should brake. So that’s why I went too deep.

    “But I knew it was going be a long race after that and, with the medium tyre, I had opportunities. But obviously Lewis had penalties, so once I was in clean air I felt the pace was pretty awesome and I could really control everything.”

    Hamilton’s need to stop for 10 seconds prior to his only pitstop dropped him back into the pack, but he was able to recover to take third place at the chequered flag and minimise the points loss to Bottas.

    Clearly disappointed after the race, Hamilton did not want to dwell on why he had made practice starts in the wrong position.

    “It was not the greatest day, but it is what it is,” he said.

    Asked about the starts and why he had made them, Hamilton said: “It doesn’t matter. It’s done now so. I take the points that I got, and move on.”

    Hamilton still holds a 44 points lead over Bottas in the drivers’ championship after the Russian GP.

    But potentially of more concern to the championship leader is that he now has 10 penalty points on his licence after the Russian GP sanctions, which means he is just two points away from a one-race ban.

  4. Russian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas said that his radio message was aimed at people asking him to “give up”. has the news story.

    Valtteri Bottas says his second “to whom it may concern, fu**k you” message after winning Formula 1’s 2020 Russia race was a response to people telling him to “give up”.

    Bottas echoed the radio call he made after winning the 2019 Australian Grand Prix when he repeated the message after winning Sunday’s race in Sochi, which he began with “nice moment to thank my critics”.

    When asked to explain his words in the post-race press conference, and to explain if criticism of his results this year against teammate Lewis Hamilton had been playing on his mind, Bottas said: “No, it’s not been.

    “But honestly, I just don’t get the people who has the need to criticise people. There’s been people telling me that I should ‘not bother’, I should ‘give up’, but how I am, I will never do that.

    “So I just wanted to again send my best wishes to them. It just came out.

    “But the main thing is I’m confident when I come to every race weekend and I believe I can do it and that’s how I’m always going to be. You have to have that mindset.

    “And I’m glad even [though] yesterday was tough, I didn’t give up, I looked at the positives and I knew there would be opportunities. And things came to me today.

    “So yeah, I hope I can encourage people not to give up because that’s the biggest mistake you can do in your life.”

    Bottas won the Russian GP for the second time after controlling Sunday’s race once early leader Hamilton had pitted on his inferior soft tyre starting strategy and after the world champion had served a 10-second penalty at that stop for a double pre-race practice start infraction.

    The Finn said his result, which has cut Hamilton’s points lead from 55 to 44, was a “good confident boost and good momentum for the next races”.

    “[My last win was] a while ago, but it’s been so close many times,” he explained. “I feel my race pace especially this season has been quite a bit better than in any season before.

    “I can’t say it’s been frustrating but it’s been a bit annoying that it’s been close but nearly there, but things definitely did go my way today.

    “As I’ve been saying, things can’t go against you forever. So definitely really satisfying today. To get the win, [it] felt like it was well earned, obviously consider myself lucky as well with Lewis’s penalty.

    “But otherwise it was a strong race.”

  5. Lewis Hamilton called his two five-second time penalties in the Russian Grand Prix “ridiculous”, saying the Formula 1 stewards are “trying to stop me”.

    Hamilton was hit with 10 seconds worth of penalties during Sunday’s race in Sochi for two separate violations while en route to the grid.

    Hamilton was adjudged to have breached the race director’s pre-race instructions by completing two practice starts in the wrong place, including one at the end of the pit exit slip road.

    It meant Hamilton ultimately finished the race third after leading the early stages from pole position, with teammate Valtteri Bottas winning for Mercedes and taking 11 points out of his championship lead.

    Hamilton said he would “need to go back and see what the rules are or what exactly I did wrong”, but did not think he had done anything out of the norm.

    “I’m pretty sure no one has got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before,” Hamilton said.

    “I didn’t put anyone in danger, I’ve done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is.”

    Hamilton also picked up two penalty points on the FIA superlicence in addition to the time penalty, leaving him just one incident away from a race ban.

    Asked if he felt the stewards’ penalty was excessive, Hamilton replied: “Of course it is. But it’s to be expected. They’re trying to stop me, aren’t they?

    “But it’s OK. I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, and we’ll see what happens.”

    Hamilton was heard over team radio calling the penalty “ridiculous” and “bulls**t”, and was also unhappy about when he was brought into the pits.

    Hamilton came in at the end of lap 16 to switch from soft tyres to hards and serve his penalty, but had wanted to go further in the stint.

    “The plan was to stop on that lap, I was just trying to go as far as I could,” Hamilton said.

    “It didn’t really change a huge amount. I had such a long way to go on that tyre, and I think I’d done pretty well on that soft.

    “You know, we’ll discuss it and try and figure it out. I just need to make sure I don’t put myself in that position again.”


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