Bottas beats Verstappen to win Russian GP

With teammate Lewis Hamilton forced to start the race on the fast wearing soft red tires, Valtteri Bottas had the opening he needed to finally win a F1 race and win he did by strolling to a comfortable win over Max Verstappen (+7s) and his Mercedes teammate Hamilton (+22s)  to win the Russian GP.

Bottas and Verstappen started the race on the preferred medium tires and Hamilton was on his back foot and then he had to serve two 5-second penalties for pre-race practice start infractions and that meant Hamilton had no chance to challenge for victory. He now has to wait until the next race at the Nurburgring to tie Michael Schumacher’s 91 wins.

“Once I was in clean air, the pace was awesome,” said Bottas. It was Bottas’ first win since the opening race of the season.

“I never give up, it was a good day. I just need to try and keep the momentum, and there are quite a few races to go still.”

Hamilton refused to be drawn on those penalties that robbed him of a chance of victory and us of a chance to see those different strategies pan out. “It doesn’t matter, it’s done now. Just take the points I’ve got and move on now. Congratulations to Valtteri.”

“I was slower on the mediums but once we went on the hards we were more competitive. To split the Mercedes cars, I’m happy with that,” said Verstappen.

“They were faster, I did everything I could. I’m very happy with second after two DNFs.”

Hamilton is two penalty points away from receiving a Formula 1 race ban after his practice start violation at the Russian Grand Prix.

Any driver who accumulates 12 penalty points in the space of a 12-month period will be hit with a single race ban.

On the radio to his team on the cool down lap Bottas said, “to my critics, Fu%#k you.”

Race Start – LAT Images

The race was run before a large crowd at the beachfront resort of Sochi.

Sergio Perez (+30s) came home 4th in the Racing Point Mercedes while Daniel Ricciardo (+47s) brought the Renault home in 5th.

Charles Leclerc drove a good race for Ferrari to come home 6th.


Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Valtteri Bottas (1st): What a feeling! It’s been a little while since my last win, but I knew there would be opportunities heading into the race and luckily things went my way this time. It was a bit tricky at the start because an insect hit my visor just as I was entering the braking zone, which meant I couldn’t really see where to brake and so I went deep. But I knew it was going to be a long race and with the Medium tire, there would be chances later on. Lewis then had his penalty, and once I was in clean air, the pace was really strong, and I was able to control everything without any real concerns. Now I need to keep this momentum up. There are quite a few races to go and you just never know, so I’ll keep pushing, I won’t give up and we’ll see how it turns out in the end.

Bottas takes the win – Steve Etherington

Lewis Hamilton (3rd): Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to all the fans who came out this weekend, I hope you enjoyed the race. It wasn’t a great day for me, but it is what it is. We need to go through everything and understand exactly what went on to get those two penalties. That obviously dropped me back and the first stint on the Soft was also challenging, as I was trying to go as far as I could on that tire. I think I did pretty well on the Soft and from then, it was about trying to recover as much as possible. It was just one of those days, but I’m grateful that I still managed to get a podium, bag some points and didn’t lose as much as I could have done. Congratulations to Valtteri on the win, and I’ll take the points and move forward.

Hamilton led Bottas early – Wolfgang Wilhelm

Toto Wolff, Team Principal: We’ve held onto our 100% winning record in Sochi and a one-three finish is a great result for the team, so we’re very satisfied. On Valtteri’s side, the win was long overdue and he drove a brilliant race. There were no mistakes, he managed the tires well and controlled it to the very end, cruising across the finish line. On Lewis’s side, it was a frustrating race. There is some room for interpretation with the practice start rules, so clearly, we need to analyse why we made the mistake and take the penalties on the chin. Like always, we win and lose together, never pointing the finger but instead trying to investigate what we can do better and how to improve. Clearly, we’ve had two incidents, here and in Monza, where we have made mistakes, and learning from these will only make us stronger in the long run. Nevertheless, we increased our Championship advantage with a strong result and now look ahead to the Nürburgring.

Andrew Shovlin: Valtteri did an excellent job today and it was very nice to see him on the top step of the podium again. He had a good weekend overall and drove a strong race to finish it with a win. Lewis had a more difficult weekend. The issues already started yesterday when he had his first time in Q2 deleted and the session was red flagged when he was at the end of his second Q2 run. It ultimately meant that he had to qualify on the Soft tire which put him on the wrong foot for the race. The challenge with that compound is they keep fairly consistent grip levels until you get down to the underlayer of the tire – and then you suddenly lose a lot of grip. When we pitted Lewis there was very little rubber left on the rear left tire and while it might have been able to do another lap or two, you just risk suddenly losing grip which would bring other people into your pit window. Lewis served his penalty when he pitted and after that it was all about trying to secure the maximum result. It was a difficult day for Lewis, but he still came away with reasonable points and still holds a commanding position in the Championship. We’re now looking forward to going back to the Nürburgring in two weeks; there are a number of things we could have done better in Sochi this weekend and we’ll try and put them right at the Eifel GP.

Scuderia Ferrari

Charles Leclerc (6th): “It was tricky at the beginning, as I had a pretty poor start and lost a few positions by turn one, but then I regained them immediately and from then on the performance was very good. Our pace was not too bad at all today. We were quite strong in our first stint on Medium tires and we managed to go long on them also because I paid particular attention to tire management today, after we had seen a lot of degradation on Friday in our race simulation. I worked on it and I am glad it worked out well. We maximized what we had today and that’s the most important thing. It’s a positive weekend for us and this also helps us mentally.”

Charles Leclerc

Sebastian Vettel (13th): “It was a bit of a boring race, as we didn’t have many options in terms of strategy. My start, from the dirty side of the track, was not ideal and so I couldn’t benefit from other people’s crashes and collisions. After the Safety Car period I was a bit stuck and I struggled to stay close to the cars in front of me. In the middle part of the race the car was quicker than yesterday in quali but I struggled to make the tires last, partly because following other cars did not help. I did the maximum today but I was just not quick enough.”

Vettel was out to lunch…again

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: “To sum up the weekend, it was a step forward, at least compared to recent races, both in terms of the result and our performance level. Charles produced a solid drive to sixth, getting the most out of the package. He was aggressive after the start and then drove a very mature race for someone who is not yet 23. Sebastian was unable to get into the points, stuck in traffic in the key moments after the start. We brought a few small aero updates to Sochi: nothing radical in terms of performance but a step in the right direction for the development of the car. In a season when the gaps in the mid-field are very close, it doesn’t take much to move up the order. We must continue moving forward like this, starting with the next round in a fortnight at the Nürburgring.”

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (2nd): “We can be very happy with second place today, especially on a track where we know that we aren’t normally so competitive. It is a good amount of points for the Team and what we needed after the last few races. There was very low grip on the inside of the grid at the start, which cost us a bit and the first few corners were pretty interesting, but we stayed calm and I quickly moved past Daniel again. I struggled to follow the Mercedes cars on the medium tire as I had a lot of oversteer but once I pitted on to the hard we were more competitive and I focused on my own race which we managed well. It’s good to be back on the podium and we can definitely be pleased to finish within eight seconds of Bottas on this track.”

Max Verstappen

Alexander Albon (10th): “Today was a lot of work for one point and it wasn’t an easy race. We struggled at the beginning to overtake and get through the pack on the hard tire and so we lost a lot of time. When we swapped to the mediums it was a little better and we did as much as we could but it was difficult out there and a frustrating race. We were just in traffic the whole time without any clean air so we couldn’t put down any really good laps. After the gearbox penalty, today was about damage limitation and now I’m already focusing on Germany and having a cleaner weekend in two weeks’ time.”

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: “Second place is a fantastic result for Max today and once again he extracted everything he could out of the car with a quality drive. Second was the optimum we could have hoped for and Lewis’ penalty did help us out. It was a tough afternoon for Alex who started in 15th place following a grid penalty for a gearbox change. He lost ground on the opening lap but with the Safety Car we effectively had a free stop, only conceding one place as we changed Alex from the soft tire to the hard which he was more comfortable on. He was then able to make progress through the field with some great overtaking moves. The Team once again made some fantastic pit stops and in six years of coming to Sochi this is our best result, with yesterday’s front row start and today’s second place so it is great to leave with a trophy.”

Renault Sport Formula One Team

Daniel Ricciardo (5th):

Esteban Ocon (7th):

Alan Permane, Sporting Director:

Nick Chester, Technical Director:

Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer:

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director:

Haas F1 Team

Kevin Magnussen (12th): “We absolutely did the best we could today. On a day like this the team deserves points, we maximized the car completely. We weren’t quick enough at all to be up there – in and around the top 10, our pace should have been down the back. We were in the running for points for almost all the race, so it was a really good job from everyone. Even though there’s nothing really to celebrate I think we still can be really satisfied with the job we’ve done today and the progress we’re making, both operationally and on the set-up of the car.”

Kevin Magnussen

Romain Grosjean (17th): “We managed to get through the first lap quite well, with both cars running up into the points, after that I was hanging in there. With all the problems we’ve had since Friday, with the car not being so good, sadly they appeared again today. Yesterday, on new tires and low fuel, we could get away with it, but today it was a handful to drive. I could feel from the first few laps that there was something not right, I had no rear-end. I pushed with every tool I had onboard. Let’s hope we can analyze everything and be better for the next race.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: “It was a quite stressful afternoon. We started off after the restart in good positions, we tried to stay there, and for a while we achieved it. Obviously, we had some issues, because the car didn’t get any quicker overnight, but the guys kept up for a while pretty well. The troubles started when the virtual safety car came out. Kevin (Magnussen) lost quite a bit of time under there – he was then attacked by Giovinazzi, and Giovinazzi was successful. Romain (Grosjean) was not happy with his car, but I think that was broadcasted very well, so I don’t need to say more on that one.”

McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris (15th): “It was an extremely tough race. My start was alright – nothing spectacular, but not bad. It was difficult on the right-hand side of the grid. I had a decent run down to Turn Two, but some guys just committed a lot more and I ended up having to back out. Anyone that committed just ran off the track and it was tricky to avoid them. Then there was the incident ahead that involved Carlos that I had to avoid. I think it damaged some bits on the car and made it a lot trickier to finish the race. We weren’t far away, but on a Hard tire, which we boxed for at the end of lap one, I just missed out a little bit. We need to improve for next time – it was very tricky to drive the car in the race on this track. We’ll try again in Germany.”

Carlos Sainz (DNF, Accident): “First of all, apologies to the entire team. It was tricky to get a good start on the dirty side and by Turn Two we were surrounded by other cars. I went too deep and left the track, so I decided to run over the sausage curb and go around the bollards to avoid the penalty. It was a quick decision, the angle was very tight and I simply misjudged my speed. It was a pretty heavy impact but I’m fine, just disappointed for the team. Watching the replay of the start, other cars also left the track at Turn Two but kept going and didn’t get the penalty, so I might as well have done the same. But anyway, it is what it is. We will reset and go again in Germany.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “It’s a very disappointing Sunday afternoon for us, coming away from Russia with zero points. Our race was pretty much over after two corners, with Carlos running into the barriers and then Lando having to take avoiding action, finishing up at the back of the field. We boxed Lando onto the Hard tires at the end of the first lap, trying to go to the end of the race, which was still a sensible choice given the long life of that compound. Lando gave it his all, but without another Safety Car to mix things up, there wasn’t really anything he could do. The team – here at the track and back home – put in a lot of hard work, so it’s a tough one to take, especially with the great atmosphere in Sochi with fans finally back in the grandstands. We have to go away and reset, further understand the weaknesses of the car, work on updates and come back stronger two weeks from now at the Nürburgring.”

Racing Point F1 Team

Sergio Perez (4th): “It was a lonely race out there! We got the absolute maximum out of the car today and P4 was the best result we could achieve, so I’m very happy. The first stint was absolutely key. We knew the start would be difficult on the dirty side of the grid, but I was disappointed to lose two places to the Renaults off the line. I think we were very similar on pace to them, so the fact we were able to conserve the tire so well in the opening stint and get back ahead of them was crucial – and we did a great job to execute that strategy. We can go into the next race on a real high, and I’m looking forward to getting the upgrade soon and aiming for more great results in the coming races. We have a strong car this year and I’m enjoying driving it.”

Sergio Perez finished 4th

Lance Stroll (DNF, Accident): “I made a great start to the race and I was up to P7 by the time of the collision. Having had the free choice of tires, by starting outside of the top 10, we were in a really good place to execute a strong race and score plenty of points. Sadly, it wasn’t to be because my right-rear tire got hit by Leclerc on the opening lap. I’m very surprised that he didn’t get a penalty because I left him plenty of room and he could have avoided making contact by not going so wide on the exit. I was on the edge of the track and couldn’t have done more to avoid him, so I’m disappointed that a careless move cost us a potentially good result. What’s done is done, and I’m ready to focus on coming back stronger in Germany next time out.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: “A perfectly executed race by Sergio and the team to convert fourth place on the grid into a race result. Despite dropping back behind the Renaults at the start, he battled back with a combination of overtakes and strategy to score 12 important points. A very strong weekend from start to finish. But it was a bittersweet race with Lance being taken out of the race on lap one – through no fault of his own – when Leclerc hit his right rear tire. That spun Lance around and into the wall. It’s a massive shame because he had made a superb start and was already up in P7 right behind Checo. Given the pace of the car, it’s frustrating that Lance couldn’t score the points he deserved today.”

Alfa Romeo Racing

Antonio Giovinazzi (11th): “It was a positive race in which we achieved the maximum we could, especially starting from 17th. The start was really good, we once again made up a good few places, and I felt I could push and fight the cars around me. I was happy with our pace and for sure we closed the gap a bit more, so we need to continue like this. It’s always frustrating to finish just one place outside the points, but I am still happy with today’s result and with the confidence it gives us going forward.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing C39, leads Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-20 (Photo by Mark Sutton / LAT Images)

Kimi Raikkonen (14th): “The car was behaving well and we had good speed, but Sochi is a difficult place to pass and we couldn’t climb up into the points. Considering where we started the race, we probably got all we could from the race: even the slow stop didn’t change the end result too much. Antonio in P11 was just a few seconds ahead of me and I could have probably been around there, but in the end P10 was too far ahead. We showed we have speed during the race and that’s a positive for the next rounds.”

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: “We had good speed today and both cars made considerable progress from our grid positions, so we can say that we got as much as we could out of today’s race. Yesterday’s difficult qualifying, where we didn’t get everything our speed would have warranted, always meant we would have our work cut out today, but to make up ground and leave behind several of our rivals shows we have found the performance we lacked earlier in the season. We need to keep moving in this direction to continue closing the gap within the midfield and keep fighting for top ten finishes.”

Red Bull AlphaTauri Honda

Daniil Kvyat (8th): “I’m really happy with today, my home Grand Prix couldn’t have gone much better. It was a tough race, I always had to push to make the strategy work, but this is the kind of racing I like. When I saw Hamilton behind me and I was able to keep him behind for a couple of laps, I thought the pace in the race is amazing. I was confident this morning that we could have had a good race as I’m normally quite strong when it comes to Sundays. It’s just a shame I wasn’t able to force Ocon into a mistake, otherwise P7 was definitely on the table, we were quicker but it’s hard to overtake with these modern F1 cars. I’m happy with my driving and we got some good points for the team. The car is there, the pace is there, so we have to keep pushing for the rest of the season, hopefully we can gain a position in the Championship.”

Pierre Gasly (9th): “It wasn’t an easy race for us. I had a good start and was running in P7, but then we lost quite a lot of time in the middle part of the race when I was fighting with Alex and Kimi. We got overcut by Charles, but I was pretty fast and was trying to catch him. If the Virtual Safety Car period had been a bit longer, it would have certainly helped with a free stop, but it was shorter than expected so I paid for it a bit. However, I tried to recover as best as I could and was able to overtake a few cars. It’s a bit disappointing as the car felt great, we had good pace and I think we could have done more today.”

Franz Tost, Team Principal: “It was really nice to see that the grandstands were quite full here in Russia, so congratulations to the organizers as it’s pleasant to be racing in front of many F1 supporters. Our race was moderate because I think we could have achieved more today. At the start, Pierre had good pace and was in P7 for quite a long time, but then we pitted him a bit late which put him in traffic and at the end, he was only able to finish in ninth position. Daniil had a good start on the Base compound, which was a really good strategic decision. We brought him in for his pit stop on lap 31, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to make an overtake on Ocon toward the end of the race and finished P8. We will now focus on the German GP, hoping to take further steps forward.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer: “Starting from P9 and P11 and finishing P8 and P9 is positive as we were able to progress in the race, however, we felt that our car pace was capable of more. Pre-race we predicted starting inside the top 10 on the Option compound would be a disadvantage, and we saw that for Pierre. He had to stop earlier than Daniil and he re-joined the race in traffic – at that time the tires were good, but suddenly they hit a cliff. In hindsight, maybe stopping him a couple of laps earlier may have been an advantage, but in any case, I don’t think it would have changed the end result. Then it was a case for Pierre to fight through traffic and bring the car home. Near the end of the race there was a Virtual Safety Car, and at the time it was effectively a free stop for fresh tires, but the VSC ended much quicker than expected so we didn’t make life easy for him, but he did a good job regaining those two positions. As for Daniil, the car showed fantastic pace, particularly on the first stint in free air where he was very quick. After we pitted him, he came out behind Ocon, but unfortunately, he was quicker in the last sector and we weren’t able to get close enough to pass. It’s good to get both cars in the points, although overall, we have the feeling we might have been able to achieve more. We’ve lost two points to P6 in the Championship and obviously, that’s the next target for us, so we will regroup and do everything we can to come back stronger in the next race.”

Williams Racing

Nicholas Latifi (16th): “The race itself was a difficult one to manage. We thought we were going to be more competitive, but we struggled a lot in the opening stint and then didn’t have the pace to come back once we had pitted. I think strategically we did a good job, we benefited from staying out and not pitting straight away. We need to analyse where we could have done better. Overall, I think I drove a good race, a few mistakes here and there, but something that I can learn from.”

George Russell (18th): “It was a really tough day in the office with a lot of mistakes from my side. I was struggling with the tires and couldn’t get them working. I have been struggling with the starts a lot this year and I needed to step it up in terms of my confidence, and that’s what I did. I made a really good start, but I was forced off as turn two is so tight. It was three abreast, and three into one doesn’t go. We have a lot to review and some interesting things to take away from this weekend, but ultimately the points are scored on Sunday and we were not good enough today.”

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “Following a successful day yesterday, today has been disappointing, including a pre-race gearbox change for Nicholas. At the race start, both drivers had decent launches, although George then lost out in the opening corners. Following the early safety car both struggled with the tires and George in particular found it difficult to find a rhythm. We opted to pit George early and see if we could take the Prime to the end, but a flat-spot later in the stint meant another stop. In free air Nicholas had decent pace and was able to hold-off Grosjean at the end of the race. We had a tougher day today than we expected, but we can learn from what happened with the tires and do a better job next time. The Nurburgring will offer quite a different prospect to Sochi and we look forward to returning to a track that we haven’t been to for some time.”

Race Results

1 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 +0.000s
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 53 +7.729s
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 +22.729s
4 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 53 +30.558s
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 53 +52.065s
6 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 53 +62.186s
7 31 Esteban Ocon Renault 53 +68.006s
8 26 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda 53 +68.740s
9 10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 53 +89.766s
10 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing Honda 53 +97.860s
11 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 52 +1 lap
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 52 +1 lap
13 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 52 +1 lap
14 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 52 +1 lap
15 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 52 +1 lap
16 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 52 +1 lap
18 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap
NC 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 0 DNF
NC 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 0 DNF