Valtteri Bottas claimed his second victory of the 2020 Formula 1 world championship after he capitalised on a double penalty for Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was dealt a pair of five-second time penalties for stopping at the far end of the pitlane blend line to do two practice starts on his reconnaissance laps.
The Brit was comfortably leading the race from Bottas at the time of his sentence and took his penalty on Lap 17 as he was called in for his first pitstop.
Gifted the race lead, Bottas then led Max Verstappen across the line for his first win since the season-opener, and at the same venue where he scored his maiden F1 triumph.
Verstappen had fallen behind a fast-starting Daniel Ricciardo at Turn 4 on the opening lap after he veered off the track. But the Red Bull did manage to muscle himself up the inside of the Renault just two corners later.
Hamilton had slumped to 11th following his lengthy first pitstop, but he recovered strongly to still finish on the rostrum, 22-seconds adrift of Bottas.
Only one safety car neutralised the field in the race. Carlos Sainz had followed Verstappen across Turns 2, and as he circumnavigated the trio of barriers to re-join the circuit, the McLaren thumped into the concrete wall. His right-front wheel was torn away, and Sainz retired on the spot.
Lance Stroll also ended up in the barriers when he was pitched into a spin by Charles Leclerc.
From the restart, Hamilton fronted a Mercedes 1-2 but couldn’t open a healthy margin despite being on a softer compound of tyre to Bottas.
His hopes of winning were then dashed once the stewards declared their decision on Hamilton’s pre-start infringement.
The ruling of the stewards was Hamilton had not made it all the way to the official pitlane exit before doing his practice starts. Instead, he breached the rules outlawing any stopping in the fast lane.
After the race, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff vented his frustration for the decision.
“I’m not happy with the penalty because it’s far-fetched,” said Wolff.
“I will always respect the stewards in their job, but on that one we just agreed to disagree.”
Hamilton added: “If you look at probably every race that I’ve done this year at least. I always start further down. Never ever had a problem, done it for years.”
Upfront, Bottas surged to a commanding lead over Verstappen who lost ground navigating his way through lapped traffic.
Sergio Perez had found himself in fifth on Lap 1 after Ricciardo was shoved wide by Verstappen. The Racing Point driver then leapfrogged the late-stopping Esteban Ocon to snare fourth.
Ocon meanwhile was ordered to let Ricciardo past and the Australian finished fifth ahead of the lead Ferrari of Leclerc.
A brilliant tussle for ninth brewed in the final 15 laps between Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and Lando Norris. The trio swapped positions on several occasions and ended with Gasly using his fresher rubber to steal away P9.
Albon conceded defeat and followed his rival home to round out the point-scorings while Norris was paid the price for a lockup and finished in 15th.
On the day he equalled Rubens Barrichello record of 322 Grand Prix starts, Kimi Raikkonen finished 14th and just behind his former teammate Sebastian Vettel.
From a championship perspective, Hamilton’s points lead has taken a small blow after Bottas’ emphatic performance today. But the margin between the two is still a commanding 44-points.
|11||A. Giovinazzi||1 Lap|
|12||K. Magnussen||1 Lap|
|13||S. Vettel||1 Lap|
|14||K. Raikkonen||1 Lap|
|15||L. Norris||1 Lap|
|16||N. Latifi||1 Lap|
|17||R. Grosjean||1 Lap|
|18||G. Russell||1 Lap|