Bottas exploits Hamilton troubles in Russia to reignite title chances
Sochi (Russia) (AFP) –
Valtteri Bottas took full advantage of a troubled day for his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to claim the ninth win of his career with a measured drive to victory in Sunday’s incident-packed Russian Grand Prix.
The Finn swooped to take second place at the start and inherited the lead when the runaway series leader and six-time champion took an extended pit-stop to serve two five-second penalties for irregular pre-race practice starts.
A disgruntled Hamilton, aiming to win and equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix triumphs, re-joined in 11th place, but fought back to finish third behind Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
It was the sixth time this year the three had appeared together on the podium, but in a very different order to that expected as Bottas secured his second win in Russia and second this season.
His success reinvigorated his challenge for the drivers’ title and reduced Hamilton’s lead to 44 points.
Bottas took a swipe at those he considered his critics in an expletive-laden message on the team radio during his slowdown lap.
Sergio Perez came home fourth for Racing Point ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who had to take a five second penalty for an infringement, and Charles Leclerc, who was sixth for Ferrari.
Esteban Ocon was seventh for Renault ahead of local hero Daniil Kvyat and his Alpha Tauri team-mate Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, who was also given a five-second penalty, in the second Red Bull.
Hamilton did not want to talk about his penalty, instead thanking the Russian fans. "A big thank-you to the fans here this weekend – spasibo,” he said. "It’s not the greatest day, but it is what it is.”
© 2020 AFP