After an action-packed start to the Russian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas won the Russian GP on Sunday after Lewis Hamilton’s chances were hampered after being handed two penalties by race stewards. Lewis Hamilton was hoping to match the record of 91 wins held by Michael Schumacher but had to settle for third behind Max Verstappen and teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Unfortunately, for Lewis Hamilton, the toughest part of his day did not come on the track, but from the race stewards office. Hamilton was initially hit with a five second penalty for practising starts in the wrong area before the start of the race. That was bad news for Hamilton, who with 90 career wins, was hoping to match the 91 wins record of Michael Schumacher.
The day only got worse for Hamilton after race stewards handed him a second five second penalty after the start of the race. That saw the six time world champion dropping to eleventh position before eventually working his way up into third.
Hamilton, who is known at times for complaining, believes he and the Mercedes team are scrutinized by officials more than others. He added that at times it feels as if he and the team are targets by race stewards in an attempt to make the race more exciting due to Hamilton’s and Mercedes dominance in Formula One. Hamilton, while speaking post-race stated,
“It feels like we’re fighting uphill. But it’s OK. It’s not like I haven’t faced adversity before. So we just keep our heads down and keep fighting and keep trying to do a better job and be cleaner and squeaky clean.”
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Prior to the race, Hamilton asked his team over the radio if he was allowed to practise stars at the end of pit lane due to the designated zone having too much rubber from other drivers and therefore not replicating the grid conditions. Given permission by Mercedes, Hamilton stated that this is something he has done for years, although not at Sochi.
This is the second time in the last three races that there has been a team miscommunication that has impacts Hamilton’s race. While in the lead at the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton was hit with a penalty after Mercedes message to him that pit lane was close came too late.
Even with the loss, Hamilton’s lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas is still a respectable 44 points. Given Hamilton’s record and performance of his car, the odds remain strong that he will win his seventh World Champion as only seven races remain this season due to F1’s modified schedule relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to earning points for the win, Bottas also earned extra points for recording the fastest lap. Commencing after the race with the media. Bottas stated,
“There’s been people telling me that, you know, I should not bother and I should give up. But you know how I am. I will never do that.”
Bottas had attempted to take the lead at the start of the race using the slipstream coming off Hamilton’s car and was successful but was late on braking before the second corner allowing Hamilton to retake the lead.
The start of the race saw several incidents that involved Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll that saw the safety car being brought out. The first of the two involved Sainz, who hit the barrier while attempting to renter the track after going off the track in the first corner. Moments later, Lance Stroll made a mistake and spun out after going up onto the curb.
Finishing in fourth for Racing Point was Sergio Perez, his best finish of the season. Perez managed to finish just ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, while Leclerc finished in sixth, Esteban Ocon seventh, came seventh for Renault ahead of the two Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly finished in eighth and ninth respectively and in tenth was Alexander Albon.
The next stop in the schedule for F1 is in Germany for the Eifel Grand Prix. Punters hoping to place bets on the upcoming Germany GP have excellent opportunities to do so with leading sportsbooks such as Bet365, who already are favouring a one-two finish for Hamilton and Bottas.
The Russian Grand Prix was one of the first to see a larger number of fans in attendance with race organizers estimating an average of 30,000 per day came out for race activities. Previous races have seen a far more subdued turnout with most races averaging 3,000 or less attending.