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Valtteri Bottas takes advantage of Lewis Hamilton penalties to win …

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Valtteri Bottas takes advantage of Lewis Hamilton penalties to win …

Lewis Hamilton was denied a record-equalling victory at the Russian Grand Prix after he was hit with a 10-second penalty.

Valtteri Bottas takes advantage of Lewis Hamilton penalties to win Russian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas takes advantage of Lewis Hamilton penalties to win Russian Grand Prix

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Bottas took a comfortable win in Sochi for his second of the season

Credit:
Dan Istitene – Formula 1

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PA F1 correspondent,

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live updates

27 September 2020 • 2:07pm

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The penalty dropped him out of contention, with the world champion blasting the decision as “bull—-.”

With Hamilton out of the way, Bottas marched to a regulation victory, crossing the line 7.7 seconds clear of Verstappen. Bottas reduced the championship lead to Hamilton to 44 points after 10 of 17 rounds.

Hamilton will now also have to toe a disciplinary tightrope after he was dealt two additional points on his licence, taking his 12-month tally to 10.

If he receives two further penalty points at any stage during the next four grands prix, he will be hit with a one-race ban.

A look back at the time penalties incurred by polesitter Lewis Hamilton before lights out – which ended up changing the complexion of the Russian Grand Prix 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

After roaring to pole position at the Sochi Autodrom, Hamilton headed into Sunday’s race as the favourite to re-write the sport’s record book.

But his hopes were up in smoke just moments after he left his garage. Hamilton radioed in with the Mercedes pit wall to see if he could perform a practice start in the pit-lane exit.

Hamilton was informed by race engineer Pete Bonnington that he could but the decision came back to bite the Brit and his team with the tactic not permitted in the rules.

Hamilton was immediately under investigation, and despite holding off Bottas at the getaway and again at the restart – after the safety car was deployed following two separate crashes involving McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll on the opening lap – he was told he would have to surrender his lead.

“Lewis we have a 10-second penalty,” said Bonnington. “What happened? What happened?” Hamilton hastily asked.

“Those starts going to the grid, we got a five-second penalty for each,” replied Bonnington.

“That is bull—,” said Hamilton. “Where is that in the rulebook?”

Article 36.1 requires drivers “to use constant throttle and constant speed in the pit exit.” The stewards deemed that Hamilton was in breach of the rule by “performing his practice start near the end, but directly in the pit exit.”

Hamilton served his penalty when he came in for new rubber on lap 16, dropping him to 11th, 36 seconds behind Bottas.

“This is ridiculous, man,” he said. Hamilton also hit out at his team for bringing him in too early, and midway through the race when he was informed of the gap to Verstappen, Hamilton snapped: “I don’t want any more info, Bono. It doesn’t make any difference.”

Hamilton moved up the pack as those in front of him stopped for tyres but he was unable to make any impression on Verstappen, finishing 15 seconds behind the Dutchman.

“Not the greatest day, but it is what it is,” said Hamilton immediately after the race.

Asked about the penalty, he replied: “It doesn’t matter, it is done now. I take the points I have got and we move on.”

Hamilton will now have to tread carefully at the rounds in Nurburgring, Imola, Portimao and Istanbul to avoid a one-race ban.

On an otherwise largely uneventful afternoon, Sergio Perez finished fourth for Racing Point ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

We never got to find out how the differential strategies between the top three would have played out

And perhaps Bottas would have won it anyway, but not quite so comfortably. Anyway, well done Valtteri, good to see you back on the top step. 44 points the gap now. Next up we’re at the Nurburgring in what will almost certainly be cold and possibly quite damp. That’d be quite something.

Credit:
Getty Images/ Dan Mullan

Thanks for joining me today. Stay tuned for more analysis and reaction on these pages tomorrow.

Bottas reacts to the ninth win of his career

VALTTERI: “Once I was in clean air I felt that the pace was pretty awesome and that I could control everything.”Never give up. It's a good day. It's nice to get another win as it's been a while and I now need to keep the momentum going” 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Hamilton will have to wait another couple of weeks to match Schumacher’s record. It does mean, however, that he could do it at the Nurburgring which has a corner named after the seven-time world champion…

Updated constructor standings

Just seven points between McLaren (who did not score this weekend), Racing Point and Renault. Renault are definitely in amongst it now and there’s very little to separate those teams. Will be a cracking battle until the end of the season.

Updated driver standings: Top 10

Daniel Ricciardo in sixth now, has been driving brilliantly all season. Not too far away from fourth place, either, with Norris not scoring points today.

Driver of the day?

Not sure who I’d give it to? Probably Leclerc. Plenty of candidates, actually. Bottas, Verstappen, Perez, Ricciardo, Kvyat should all be fairly chuffed.

Bottas rolls out his “To whom it may concern,” riposte again

Good drive from him today. He had to let Hamilton take the win here two years ago and he has had enough bad luck in his time at Mercedes so that’s fair enough.

Russian Grand Prix – Classification

BOT
VER
HAM
PER
RIC
LEC
OCO
KVY
GAS
ALB
GIO
MAG
VET
RAI
NOR
LAT
GRO
RUS

OUT: STR, SAI

Can Kvyat get Ocon on the last lap?

No! Not quite…

Albon gets a five second time penalty but it will not drop him from 10th as Giovinazzi has been lapped and is 17s behind.

VALTTERI BOTTAS WINS THE 2020 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX

That’s better! He likes it around here. An important win for the Finn, he’ll be delighted and rightly so. Not his best weekend overall but he was there to take advantage of his team-mate’s misfortune.

FINAL LAP

Bottas crusing to victory here. Verstappen comfortably second. Hamilton comfortably third. Perez comfortably fourth. Yeah. Hamilton also gets two penalty points added to his licence which means he’s two points away from having a race ban…

PENULTIMATE LAP

Raikkonen closing up onto the back of Vettel now. Albon has dropped off the back of Gasly so it will be a single point for him now. Leclerc has driven a brilliant race. Bottas has done little wrong here, though he has benefitted from Hamilton’s misfortune.

Lap 51 of 53 – Kvyat within DRS range of Ocon now

Ocon has not had a great race after that first stop. He’s 17s behind Ricciardo on the road. Bottas, in clean air, takes the fastest lap point back off Verstappen.

Lap 50 of 53 – Running order

BOT
VER
HAM
PER
RIC
LEC
OCO
KVY
GAS
ALB
GIO
MAG
VET
RAI
NOR
LAT
RUS
GRO

OUT: SAI, STR

Verstappen takes a bunch of time out of Bottas, largely because Bottas had to lap a gaggle of backmarkers.

Lap 49 of 53 – This hasn't been a terrible race

For Sochi. Decent amount of action, drama and intrigue. Verstappen sets the fastest lap of the race and reduces Bottas’s lead to 7.3s, though it’s all by the by.

Lap 48 of 53 – Norris locks up…

And Albon is through. Norris now out of the points and I think he’ll stop for a set of softs and perhaps go for the fastest lap, although he won’t be eligible for the point unless he’s in the top 10. Hamilton doesn’t have that luxury. in fact, nobody else on track does.

Lap 47 of 53 – Ricciardo looks like he's going to keep hold of fifth here

He has a five second time penalty but Leclerc in sixth is 9.7s behind. Now Gasly’s turn to have a go at Norris but again the Briton is fighting brilliantly.  He gets him, quite easily, with DRS and into turn two and up into P9.

Lap 46 of 53 – Nice battle emerging between Norris/Albon/Gasly

Albon tries his luck but Norris resists brilliantly, putting his car where Albon cannot get past. Norris on very old tyres. He can’t get through and now Gasly will be closing up at great speed… looks like Albon nearly put Gasly into the wall… though it may have been deceptive… now Gasly screams past Albon on the back straight with a much better run and into P10. Nice work, Pierre!

Lap 45 of 53 – What's happening at the front?

Not a great deal. The gaps are fairly stable. 11.4s from Bottas to Verstappen, 9.6 from Verstappen to Hamilton.

Lap 44 of 53 – VSC deployed

That’s because Grosjean destroyed the bollards at turn two and they are having to replace them. That makes sense and the new bollards are placed. And the VSC ends after about 10 seconds. Not long enough for anyone to get an advantage with a pit stop, though Kvyat has come in… I think that’s a mistake. They must have thought the VSC would have been longer than it was… that’s an error.

Lap 43 of 53 – Running order

BOT
VER
HAM
PER
RIC
LEC
OCO
KVY
GAS
NOR

Albon now in 11th, just a couple of seconds behind Norris. Norris on very, very old tyres.

Lap 42 of 53 – Vettel does get Grosjean for 14th, though

Grosjean drove clean through the polysytrene bollards at turn two, failing to negotiate them. They touched in that move, too…

Lap 41 of 53 – Leclerc in sixth…

…Vettel in 15th. That’s woeful. He’s only 6.5s ahead of Raikkonen, who is now on fresher and quicker tyres. Losing that place to his former team-mate would be quite some ignominy.

Lap 40 of 53 – Ricciardo holding fifth

Leclerc 6.7s behind him. The Aussie has a 5s penalty so that will be the target for Leclerc. Perez in a race of his own today in P4. Giovinazzi shows his intention with a lovely move around the outside of Grosjean at turn two.

Lap 39 of 53 – Hamilton still 10s behind Verstappen

Albon slicing his way through the field now, currently in P12. 25s away from Kvyat in eighth though so perhaps a point or two is the best he’s going to get.

Lap 38 of 53 – Verstappen closing the gap now

It’s 11.1s. Not sure if this is any real pace or if Bottas has backed off or is in traffic – I think the latter, as he has just lapped both Williams cars.

Lap 37 of 53 – This is the problem with one-stop races

There’s little variation in what drivers do – or can do – to try something a little different. You know that Hamilton would have done that were it possible today, what with his penalties. But it’s not…

Lap 36 of 53 – Around two-thirds race distance now

Bottas just building up enough a big enough lead before backing up slightly.

Here’s the top 10. Raikkonen has now stopped and is out in 16th. It was a slow stop, unfortunately.

BOT
VER
HAM
PER
RIC
LEC
OCO
KVY
GAS
NOR

Lap 35 of 53 – Bottas leads Verstappen by 13s

Hamilton is a further 10s behind the Red Bull. He’s told to keep his pace up and that is what he’s doing, setting the first sector. Will be good for him to win here, he took his first win here in 2017 and should have won in 2018 but for being told to give the victory to Hamilton.

Credit:
AFP/YURI KOCHETKOV

Lap 34 of 53 – Norris/Albon/Russell watch

Not going terribly well for any of them. Norris in P11 but on 32 lap hard tyres so will have to stop again almost certainly. Albon in P15 on fresh mediums so will have to do some overtaking. Russell last on the road after two stops…

Lap 33 of 53 – Raikkonen still has not stopped

And is holding up Pierre Gasly for ninth.

Lap 32 of 53 – Ricciardo told of his five second penalty

“I’ll drive faster. That was my bad, I’ll make up for it,” he says. Hamilton dropping back from Verstappen now. Nearly nine seconds between them now. Might just be too much to make up given the tyre disadvantage he has. Could Kvyat be in line for some decent points here? He’s now on the mediums and is only nine seconds behind Ricciardo in fifth and he has a five second penalty…

Lap 31 of 53 – Kvyat pits from third

Which means we have the top three as Bottas, ahed of Verstappen by 13s, ahead of Hamilton by 7.9s. All on the hard tyres but Hamilton’s roughly 10 laps older than the top two. Kvyat comes out eighth in the end.

Lap 30 of 53 – Bottas leads Verstappen by 12.2s

Hamilton approaching the non-stopper Kvyat in his home race. Should be an easy pass? Could be an interesting battle between Hamilton and Verstappen towards the end of the race.

Lap 29 of 53 – Running order

Leclerc exits the pits but will not be ahead of Ricciardo, will he do Ocon? Yes, just about. Which means he’s also ahead of Vettel, who has not stopped. Great driving from Leclerc here so far.

BOT
VER
KVY*
HAM
PER
RIC
LEC
OCO
VET*
RAI*
GAS
NOR
MAG
GRO
GIO
ALB
LAT
RUS

*yet to pit

OUT: STR, SAI

Lap 28 of 53 – That is a five second penalty for Ricciardo

So the switcheroo has backfired for Renault – but how much will it cost them? Bottas leads Leclerc, who has not stopped, by 9.8s. Hamilton 2s behnd Kvyat and about five behind Verstappen. Leclerc finally does pit after a long first stint. Anyway, he gets past Vettel…

LAP 28/53Ricciardo passes Vettel to move up to P9But seconds later the Australian receives confirmation of a five-second time penalty for an earlier infringement 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Lap 27 of 53 – Ricciardo under investigation now

For going wide at turn two and not going the right way around the bollards. That swap could backfire for Renault if he gets a five second penalty. Not ideal. He’s battling with Vettel on the track now but can’t quite get past. Vettel driving well today, neither Ferrari has stopped yet and his SF1000 is looking especially wide today.

Lap 26 of 53 – Verstappen stops from second…

And he comes out just six seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton but behind Kvyat in the sister team. He will want to dispatch him quite rapidly. Bottas told to box on this lap… but he will keep his lead. 2.7s stationary, not bad.

Lap 25 of 53 – Bottas extends his lead to 9.9s

Ricciardo gets past Ocon at the start of the lap… was that ordered from the team? Yeah, he was. Fair enough. Will Ricciardo get a five second penalty for that, though? He ran wide and went to the left of the kerb at turn two and did not go through the directional bollards…

Lap 24 of 53 – Ocon now being hustled by Ricciardo

He’s not making great inroads into Vettel ahead.

Lap 23 of 53 – Bottas leads Verstappen by 7.5s

Going quite well now, as I said, the victory is his to lose as it stands. It’s quite tight in the midfield, with just 15s separarting 6th and 15th. Ocon closing up on Vettel. Hamilton not happy with being stopped early, saying he’s going to struggle to make it to the end. He won’t but he’s rightly annoyed at how the race has slipped away from him.

Lap 22 of 53 – With McLaren struggling

And Stroll out, it’s a good opportunity for Renault to make inroads into their lead in the constructor championship. Ferrari actually doing okay here.

Lap 21 of 53 – Bottas sets another fastest lap for good measure

His lead is nearly six seconds. It is, quite frankly, his to lose. Unless something odd happens. Another SC is not out of the question. Kvyat is who Mercedes want Bottas to clear. The gap is currently 28s between Bottas and the Russian, so they will want another few seconds before he’s clear of Kvyat, who is running long on the hard tyres.

Lap 20 of 53 – Top 10

BOT
VER
PER
LEC
KVY
HAM*
VET
OCO*
RAI
RIC*

*has stopped

Lap 19 of 53 – Ocon pits and comes out behind Hamilton

Hamilton dispatches Vettel quite easily at the start of the lap. Hamilton now in P7. Next man up the road is Magnussen on the mediums.

Lap 18 of 53 – Bottas leads Verstappen by 4.5s

Verstappen not quite in undercut range, though, at the moment. Bottas sets another fastest lap and puts seven tenths or so into Verstappen. The gap is nearly five seconds now. Hamilton closing in on the back of Vettel and is within DRS range.

Lap 17 of 53 – Where does Hamilton come out?

Can he get ahead of Daniel Ricciardo? I think he will… but it will be close. Actually not that close in the end but he’s behind Sebastian Vettel. “This is just ridiculous, man” he says on the radio. He’s onto the hard tyres and will run to the very end. Thing is, they will be a lot more worn than Bottas’s, whenever he pits and puts on fresh hard tyres. Probably another 10 laps or so?

LAP 17/53Hamilton pits from P1, and serves his two five-second penalties on the stop ⏱️He rejoins behind Sebastian Vettel in P10 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Bottas, in clean air, sets the fastest lap.

Lap 16 of 53 – Running order

HAM
BOT
VER
OCO
PER
GAS
LEC
KVY
MAG
RO
GIO
VER
RAI
RIC
ALB
LAT
NOR
RUS

OUT: STR, SAI

Hamilton pits… he’ll take his penalty now. Where will he come out?

Lap 15 of 53 – I guess Hamilton is hoping to extend this stint…

…and then go hell for leather towards the end of the race, hoping to claw back all that lost time. Daniel Ricciardo comes in from fifth, not great being stuck behind Ocon.

Lap 14 of 53 – Hamilton told to get on with it

He really needs to clear cars from his pit window. If he were to pit now – and it’s a long time loss here – he’d come out way, way, way down around 15th or 16th… in among cars that will be running quite far into the race. Hamilton is going to need a safety car – or a miracle – to win this race now.

Credit:
afp/Kirill Kudryavtsev

Hamilton stays out… possibly against the wishes of the team. “Do not stop me now,” he says. And he just sets the fastest lap of the race. He extends his lead to 2.4s…

Lap 13 of 53 – Bottas getting on with it here…

He’s lapping around Hamilton’s pace if not a little quicker on the better tyre and will be able to go deeper into the race. It’s all coming up Bottas, for once.

Lap 12 of 53 – Top six and time gaps

HAM
BOT +1.4
VER +2.9
OCO +4.9
RIC +5.5
PER +6.6

All quite close, really. Ricciardo within DRS range of  Ocon ahead.

Lap 11 of 53 – Hamilton leads Bottas by 1.5s, Bottas just biding his time I think

This 10s is going to be a problem for Hamilton. He’s on softs so will probably stop quite early and that will drop him back into traffic. Norris/Russell/Albon having an almighty duel at the start of the lap. This is brilliant, good mates all of them. Not often you see them together on track.

LAP 14/53Three in a line 👀 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Lap 10 of 53 – Perez under investigation now

For not following race directors’ notes. So that could be a five second time penalty for him. I think it’ll be  missing the bollards at turn two. Alex Albon currently running in last behind Norris. Another problematic weekend for him.

Hamilton is told of his 10 second time penalty for the start infringements. “What happened?” he says. He seems a bit baffled but it was his team who told him it was okay…

Lap 9 of 53 – Verstappen complains about rear grip

Wonder when Mercedes will tell Hamilton of his 10 seconds-worth of penalties… maybe not quite yet but they will surely take five (or 10) seconds of it at his pit stop so they’ll have to tell him before then.

Top 10:

HAM
BOT
VER
OCO
RIC
PER
GAS
LEC
MAG
KVY

Lap 8 of 53 – Hamilton leads Bottas by 1.2s

Verstappen a further 1.8s behind him. Kvyat mugs Grosjean for 10th and gets himself into the points. Two Haas cars were running into the points before then.

Lap 7 of 53 – Hamilton puts the hammer down

He’s on the soft tyres so will need to stop a fair bit earlier than Bottas and Verstappen.

And now he’s been given a five second time penalty for that practice start violation…

That makes it a bit more interesting! Things are starting to go against him…

Hang on… this is interesting. He’s been given TWO five second time penalties for TWO violations. So that’s a total of 10 seconds. This really will have to be some race…

Lap 6 of 53 – Running order

HAM
BOT
VER
OCO
RIC
PER
GAS
LEC
MAG
GRO
KVY
GIO
VER
LAT
RAI
RUS
ALB
NOR

RACE RESTARTS

Hamilton backs the pack up early. Verstappen very eager to get going…

Hamilton nails the restart and Bottas will not got much of a tow at all. Hamilton keeps his lead ahead of Bottas and Verstappen. Now the tactical race starts…

Lap 5 of 53 – It was Leclerc who was tagged by Stroll

Anyway, SC period ending soon so we get to do it all again… can Verstappen get a tow? Can Bottas? It’s not quite the same as it was in Mugello last time. So let’s see…

Lap 4 of 53 – Replay of Norris's first lap

It was truly dreadful. He got squeezed out, lost traction at turn two, slipped towards the back and then had to swerve to avoid his crashed team-mate, running over a ton of debris. He, Albon and Russell all jumped into the pits under the safety car to change their tyres. Norris complaining about his car which he says does not seem right.

Lap 3 of 53 – Hamilton leads Bottas under the SC

What does this mean for Hamilton’s strategy? Not sure yet. It’ll help the wear on his softs, allowing him to extend the stint so I suppose it’s a net gain. Still not ideal as everyone else will be able to extend their stint as well.

LAP 1/53Safety Car is out on the opening lap Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz are both out of the race 😮💥 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Sainz's accident was… a rookie error

He ran wide at turn two, had to go around those directional bollards and crashed it into the wall where the exit tightened. A completely unforced error and that looks particularly bad on replay. His own fault, really, flooring it through the tight bit off track.

LAP 1/53Carlos Sainz was forced wide after the start – and hit the edge of the wall as he tried to rejoin the track 👀💥 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

What happened to Stroll? He said he got hit from behind. Yep, massive hit from behind, not sure who it was but that’s irritating. He slid into the wall.

Lap 2 of 53 – Hamilton leads Bottas under the safety car

Looked like another weak surrender from Bottas, there. He took the lead but then didn’t seem to want to get his elbows out…

Actually, he ran too deep at turn two and then didn’t get the best exit as he was on the kerbs and that’s where Hamilton took the lead. Verstappen went wide, lost third place to Ocon and then got it back again.

Lap 1 of 53 – Running order under the safety car

HAM
BOT
VER
OCO
RIC
PER
GAS
LEC
MAG
GRO
KVY
GIO
VET
RUS
LAT
RAI
ALB
NOR

OUT: STR, SAI

THE 2020 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX IS GO!

Bottas is straight up into second and he gets a big, bit tow and goes around the outside of Hamilton!  Can he hold onto the lead?!

Verstappen runs wide!  Bottas surrenders the lead at the long turn three, not sure what happened there…

LIGHTS OUTThe 2020 Russian Grand Prix is GO! 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

There’s a crash at the back and then there’s another one with Stroll into the wall. Sainz went through the bollards and into the wall. Lando Norris down there as well.. is he still going? Awful first lap for McLaren.

Safety car out…

They line up, Hamilton in first, targeting a record 91 race wins

Can he do it? The start is absolutely crucial here.

Formation lap starts…

And not everyone is away? Kevin Magnussen only just gets going, albeit a lot later than everyone else. He’ll have to make it through the pack to take up his 18th place before the race begins. The frontrunners will be waiting on the grid an absolute age.

What we really don't want…

…is for Hamilton to win and then having to wait until a post-race investigation for it to be confirmed…

Starting tyre types

Hamilton on softs, Verstappen and Bottas on mediums. The rest of the top 10 on softs. Then it’s everyone else on mediums apart from Kvyat and Raikkonen on hards and Alex Albon on softs.

It's getting a bit tight if they're going to give Hamilton a grid drop now…

With just six minutes until the formation lap. Johnny Herbert, a driver steward and presenter on Sky Sports F1, reckons it’ll be okay because his team told him it was. Then again he said that Hamilton would lose his lap time after his investigation in qualifying yesterday, not realising he had already lost it…

Good chance of a safety car here

So that throws up some unknowns, too. Last year’s race was almost decided on it, though Ferrari – in usual fashion – imploded in a variety of ways.

Strategy chat from Pirelli

What’s in your strategy book? 🇷🇺

— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport)

So here's the grid – assuming Hamilton does not get a grid drop

And here's a look at the revised grid 👀Under two hours to lights out ⏲️ 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Guess it could be a drive-through?

Hamilton under investigation…

…for doing a practice start from an illegal position. Interesting…

BREAKING: Lewis Hamilton is under investigation by the race stewards for a practice start outside of the designated area 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Not sure what the penalty would be for that, I’d at least assume a grid drop?

30 minutes to go

Here’s the weather. Looks good.

It's been stunning all weekend in Sochi and race day is no different 👀Perfect conditions for some F1 racing! ☀️ 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Albon and Latifi have taken grid penalties

Which means a P15 start for the Red bull man and P20 for Latifi.

Vettel stuffed it in the wall in Q2 yesterday

An early qualifying exit for Sebastian Vettel 😖Thankfully he was unharmed after this hit, but it brought out the red flag during Q2 🚩 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

…and team-mate Charles Leclerc had a narrow escape, though he still could not make it through to Q3.

A narrow escape for Charles Leclerc 😮 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

… before Vettel cleared up after himself.

Credit:
Getty Images Europe

Here's the strength of the tow at this track

Third place might not be such a bad place for Bottas.

Remember the 2017 start at Sochi? Valtteri sure does… 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Current driver standings – top 10

Might Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, replace Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo?

It would be a nice parallel, as Raikkonen replaced Michael at Ferrari for the 2007 season. Mick is currently leading, fairly comfortably, the F2 championship with just a few rounds left. I think, at the moment, it is more likely than not.  He’s the leading Ferrari academy driver in the championship and Alfa have a strong relationship with the team.

Approval from the paddock 👊 🤜🤛 🇷🇺

— Formula 2 (@FIA_F2)

Callum Ilott, the Briton, is another Ferrari academy driver and is second in the championship. Could he end up at Haas or in F1 in another seat?

This makes me feel old

Not bad for a hobby 😉Kimi Raikkonen starts his 322nd F1 race on Sunday, equalling Rubens Barrichello's record 🇷🇺

— Formula 1 (@F1)

Or at least experienced. I remember seeing Raikkonen in the Formula Renault Winter Series at Silverstone as support for the BTCC at the turn of the century. He absolutely bossed it there. Not sure he’ll be around next season but I think he’s still managing to perform pretty well.

Final times after qualifying

Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 31.304secs
Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:31.867
Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:31.956
Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:32.317
Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:32.364
Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:32.550
Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault 1:32.624
Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:32.847
Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:33.000
Alexander Albon (Tha) Red Bull 1:33.008
Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:33.239
Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:33.249
Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 1:33.364
George Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:33.583
Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:33.609
Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:34.592
Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:34.594
Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:34.681
Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:35.066
Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:35.267

Good morning F1 fans

And welcome to our coverage for the 2020 Russian Grand Prix from the Sochi Autodrom, famously on the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Lewis Hamilton did what Lewis Hamilton does and claimed his 96th career pole position yesterday, though it was far from straightforward for the champion, making a mess of laps in both Q1 and Q2 and only just getting across the line to complete a lap good enough to get him into Q3, after Sebastian Vettel crashed and brought out the red flag.

In Q3 nobody could get close, though, as he beat Max Verstappen by over half a second and team-mate Valtteri Bottas by nearly 0.7s. That said, Hamilton is not all that optimistic of his chances in the race today. He had to use a set of soft tyres to get through to Q3 in the end, which means he starts on them, whereas his two biggest rivals behind him are on the more favourable medium compound tyres.

It’s not a good place to start at all and I think this year you’re seeing our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years.

I generally expect one of these two [Bottas or Verstappen] to come flying by at some point.I think I’m just going to focus on my race and just try to run the fastest race I can. Obviously I’m on the worst tyre to start on the race but generally it’s a good tyre to do an actual start but it doesn’t have… it has the biggest degradation, ten times more than any other tyre, I think it is. So that’s going to be a struggle.

I don’t know if that puts me onto a two-stop, I don’t know, unlikely because the pit lane is too slow, so I’m just going to have to nurse those tyres as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away so going to sit down tonight to try to figure out if there’s a different kind of race I can do tomorrow to keep my position.

It should, then, at least be an interesting race strategically. It’s not the best track for overtaking — or indeed the best track in any way, shape or form — but we have had a few decent grands prix in here in the past few years so here’s hoping.  As ever, I’ll be here for all the build-up, live updates and reaction.

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