Valtteri Bottas took advantage of a 10-second time penalty handed to Lewis Hamilton to claim his second victory of the season at the Russian Grand Prix and reignite his championship chances.
Hamilton has handed two separate punishments for performing two practice starts outside of the designated area before the start of the race, changing the dynamic of the contest between the two Mercedes teammates.
An incident-packed first lap saw Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz retire after collisions, with Hamilton holding on to his position under pressure from Bottas heading down the stretch into turn two.
However, Bottas was able to take control of the race when Hamilton had to serve his 10-second time penalty in the pitlane, denying the world championship leader the chance to equal Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record of 91 race victories.
DRIVER OF THE DAY - Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
This season has been one to forget for Ferrari, with the Scuderia well off the pace of the frontrunners, but Charles Leclerc continues to outperform the car he has underneath him. This was underlined by the 13th place finish charted by teammate Sebastian Vettel who struggled for straight line speed throughout. 6th still isn’t where Ferrari want to be in the grand scheme of things, but Leclerc continues to prove himself as a driver this season.
WHERE THE RACE WAS WON
1/53 - Lights out! What a start! Bottas has a real look at Hamilton, with the Finn ahead of his teammate heading into turn two, but Hamilton manages to keep hold of the position! There have been incidents in the midfield and at the back of the pack! Sainz went through the bollards after going wide and Stroll is in the barrier!
7/53 - Five-second time penalty for Hamilton! The stewards have finally reached a decision on Hamilton's practice start outside of the designated area and the world championship leader will have five seconds deducted from his finishing time.
17/53 - Hamilton into the pits! The race leader comes in and he's going to serve his 10-second penalty in the pitlane! It's a good stop from Mercedes. Where will Hamilton come out? He's out ahead of Ricciardo and that has to be considered a relative success! That worked as well as they could have hoped!
36/53 - Another fastest lap! Bottas just can't be caught at the moment. He has clear air and no traffic ahead of him, he's in the best car on the grid and is at a circuit where he has always achieved good results over the course of his career. Is this one in the bag for Bottas?
Bottas wins the Russian GP! It's a second race victory of the 2020 season for Bottas and he reignites his championship chances with Mercedes teammate Hamilton finishing third! Verstappen splits the two Silver Arrows, with Perez in fourth and Ricciardo in fifth. Leclerc takes home the Ferrari in sixth, which considering how Vettel's afternoon went is not a terrible result at all.
PIT EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
“Nice moment to thank my critics - to whom it may concern, f*** you,” Bottas said over the Mercedes team radio after taking the chequered flag. The Finn has indeed had his critics this season. This performance proved he can still challenge Hamilton for race victories even if he was handed a slice of luck through the time penalty meted out to his teammate.
The best overtake of the race came just 15 laps in, when Perez gently squeezed Ricciardo on to the dusty part of the track before making the move down the inside. The Racing Point was able to claim P5 from the Australian despite the Renault having superior straight line speed.