Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix: Hamilton’s woes, Bottas’ Gain

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Valtteri Bottas got the win at this past week’s Russian Grand Prix. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Michael Hernandez, Contributing Writer

On Sunday, Sept. 29, the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix took place in Sochi. Following the spectacular races in Italy, everyone was excited for the race, hoping for more drama on a weekend that could have seen two Formula 1 records being equaled. One was the record for the most appearances in a Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the other one was for all time wins.  Before the race, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen had competed in 321 races, just behind former driver Rubens Barrichello, who started 322. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was at 90 F1 victories, just behind the legendary seven time F1 champion, Michael Schumacher, who has 91.

Hamilton was on pole, with Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen in second and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas in third. Even before the race had started, there was drama. On the lap to head to the grid, Hamilton performed practice starts in a place where they weren’t allowed. The race stewards noted the infraction and determined the appropriate penalty. When the lights went green, we did not even get through the first lap before we had some action. In turn two, Carlos Sainz went off the track. When he tried to rejoin, he hit the wall and crashed out of the race. Later in the lap, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc hit Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, taking him out of the race. With two cars out of the race before a lap was completed, a safety car was brought out. 

Once the safety car was brought back in, racing resumed with Hamilton in first and Bottas in second. Then the stewards assigned Hamilton a 10-second penalty. This meant that when Hamilton would enter the pits for his stop, he would have to stay at his stop for 10 seconds before the stop can be performed. This put him down to 11th on lap 17. This made Bottas the race leader with Verstappen in second. Throughout the race, Hamilton fought back up to third. Bottas won the race, with Verstappen in second and Hamilton rounding out the podium. Stroll’s teammate Sergio Perez finished fourth, with Renault’s Daniel Riccardo in fifth and Leclerc in sixth. Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon finished in seventh, and the Alpha Tauris of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly finished in eighth and ninth, respectively. Finally, Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon took the final points paying position of the race in 10th.

In terms of the driver standings, Bottas has reduced the gap to leader Hamilton down to 44 points. Behind Bottas is Verstappen, down by an additional 33 points. One thing to note is Hamilton’s penalty points. He is currently at eight penalty points, which are gained by getting involved in racing incidents (crashes and penalties). If he gets four more, he will receive a race ban. If so, that will close the championship and make for a more exciting for the remaining half of the season. For now, all we can do is wait until Oct. 11, when Formula 1 will head to Germany for the Eifel Grand Prix.