Bottas exploits record-chasing Hamilton’s troubles in Russia | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bottas exploits record-chasing Hamilton’s troubles in Russia


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 yesterday’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 pitstop 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. His second win in Russia and second this season reinvigorated Bottas’ challenge for the drivers’ title and reduced Hamilton’s lead to 44 points.

Sergio Perez came home fourth for Racing Point ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who had to take a five-second penalty for 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 “It doesn’t matter. It’s done now. I’ll take the points and move on, but congratulations to Valtteri. “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…” Bottas said: “It’s very nice to get a win. It’s been a while! I need to try and keep the momentum.

I’ve managed to squeeze a few points over Lewis, but there are still quite a few races to go so you never know. I’ll keep pushing. I won’t give up.” Verstappen said: “We split the Mercedes again so that is good -- and we can be happy with that.” All three drivers wore their racing overalls on the podium after the race, obeying the latest revised rules from the sport’s ruling body not to wear any items carrying ‘political’ messages.

Hamilton had made a solid start from his record 96th pole and fended off the slipstreaming Bottas, who had passed Verstappen’s, Red Bull. The Dutchman, recovering from a ragged getaway, ran offline to defend against a rapid Ricciardo before two first lap crashes behind them ended the early action and brought out the Safety Car.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz hit a wall in the run-off area at Turn Two after losing control before Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was nudged from behind by Leclerc and spun into the barriers. Sainz almost collected several other cars including team-mate Norris who managed to avert a collision but felt he suffered some damage.

The action resumed on lap six when Hamilton’s penalties were announced. “What happened? What happened?” he responded on team radio. “Those starts, going to the grid, we got five seconds for each -- out of position,” he was told.