After a lull following his strong start to the season, Valtteri Bottas picked up his second win of the season at the Russian Grand Prix. His teammate Lewis Hamilton had already pegged him as a significant challenger, but the British driver’s two five-second time penalties certainly didn’t help matters. After serving his penalty, Hamilton was no longer a challenger for the win, leaving Bottas to take the victory.
As Bottas crossed the line, he had quite the message: “To my critics and to whom it may concern, fuck you.”
The first lap spelled disaster for several drivers, wiping out both Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz Jr. Turn 2 struck again, with a few drivers running wide. Max Verstappen lost out on two positions running through the newly placed bollards. Sainz had less luck, clipping the tight wall in the turn. Stroll was hit from behind. Lando Norris found himself at the back of the pack after having to avoid Sainz, who tagged his right rear tire.
The safety car came in on lap six. This time everyone came away cleanly.
As the race got underway, Lewis Hamilton was awarded a ten second time penalty. Before the race, he practiced two standing starts outside of the appropriately designated zones. Hamilton had asked the team if a stop was okay before he stopped, and they had confirmed it.
Interestingly, Hamilton has also acquired 10 penalty points for the current 12-month period, gaining one for each of his practice start violations. He’s currently two penalty points away from receiving a one-race ban.
(UPDATE 9/27/2020 1:29 PM: Hamilton’s penalty points have been removed by the stewards and replaced with a $29,000 fine instead.)
Hamilton was already concerned about not being able to secure a large gap between himself and his teammate, and the prospect of a penalty dropping him down the grid was not promising. He made his stop on lap 17 and served his penalty, returning to the track in 11th. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas took the lead over Verstappen.
The following laps were much of what you’d expect from an F1 race, although fans did have the treat of watching Hamilton fighting his way up through the standings. By lap 33, he had made his way to a podium position.
There were very few changes in the final half of the race. Valtteri Bottas crossed the finish line in first, followed by Verstappen and Hamilton. Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top five.
The good news is that the F1 circus will be heading to the Nurburgring next for the Eifel Grand Prix for a stretch of races at tracks the series has either never raced on or hasn’t raced on in years.