The Russian Grand Prix came to a close in Sochi earlier today with Valtteri Bottas clinching his second victory of the season. Teammate Lewis Hamilton finished third behind Max Verstappen after having to serve two five second penalties for practice start violations.
The race started while Hamilton was still under investigation for the aforementioned violation but after just two corners a safety car had to be called in as several cars got into contact with each other at the chaotic corner that is turn two resulting in what was the end of the race for Carlos Sainz who went spinning through the bollards while slightly further ahead Lance Stroll ended in the barriers after Charles Leclerc made contact with his rear tire in what the stewards deemed a racing incident.
The safety car led the cars for about five laps, during which Lando Norris, Alex Albon and George Russell all went to pit and coming out in a set of hard tyres. Racing resumed at what was the sixth lap with Hamilton in the lead ahead of teammate Bottas who had gained a place at the very start of the race leaving Verstappen in third. In the very next lap the race leader was made aware of his penalties.
It wasn’t until the seventeenth lap that a resigned and angry Hamilton finally pitted and served his ten second penalty hence dropping all the way down to P11 leaving Bottas to lead the charge. The briton seemed to believe he was out of contention for the win and would simply be glad to claim as much points as he could.
Further down the order Albon and Norris were engaged in a battle as the pair of friends traded last and second last places of the racers still on the track.
As the race proceeded Lewis climbed up the order with several of the cars ahead either having nothing to offer in terms of resistance against the six time world champion or themselves having to pit to switch their tires. A few cars behind was Daniel Ricciardo who himself was handed a five second penalty for failing to follow the race director’s instructions as he’d gone past track limits when going past teammate Esteban Ocon. Unlike Hamilton however his five seconds would be added to his time at the end of the race as he had already pitted.
In front of the Aussie driver was Sergio Perez who has been stellar all weekend and behind him now was Charles Leclerc who was equally impressive in the Ferrari, a car that has essentially been on the underperforming half of the grid.
As the race progressed Albon and Gasly found themselves battling for nineth place with the Alpha Tauri racer emerging as the victor and went on to finish behind his teammate Daniil Kvyat who finished eighth in his home grand prix thus concluding a great weekend for the Scuderia Alpha Tauri.
It ended up being a disappointing race for McLaren with Sainz crashing out and a sequence of misfortune that had Lando Norris running a majority of the race in a compromised car and on a set of tyres that had done about seventy percent of the race and thus failed to finish within the points ending in P14 behind Kimi Raikkonen who has now achieved the milestone of most starts in formula one.
At the post race interview Hamilton claimed to believe that he had been targeted with the penalty as a means to slow him down, he however further clarified that it wasn’t exclusive to him but rather to the dominant teams which at the moment is Mercedes. In addition to the penalty Hamilton had two points added to his super license which were later dropped upon review.