Winner's 'f*** you' finish to F1 drama

 

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas has won the Russian Grand Prix after a surprisingly dramatic race in Sochi that started off with a pair of crashes, included a glut of penalties and created plenty of intrigue for the rest of the season.

Bottas finished ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and a furious Lewis Hamilton, whose day was ruined mostly before the race even began.

It means that Hamilton will need to wait at least another week before he can draw level with Michael Schumacher on 91 career race wins.

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Bottas was thrilled with the result and had a message ready to go for the win.

"Yes, get in there," he said.  "Yes, ha ha. F*** yeah. I think it's a nice moment to thank my critics. To whom it may concern, f*** you."

It's almost his trademark response after a win, having first said it after winning the 2019 Australian Grand Prix about those who write him off.

It narrows Hamilton's lead at the top of the F1 drivers standings slightly and he was furious throughout the session.

Valtteri Bottas finally got a win.
Valtteri Bottas finally got a win.

The incident that steamed Hamilton was before the race even began when the championship leader performed a practice start at the end of the pit lane.

While the incident was investigated before the formation lap, Hamilton was handed two five-second penalties for the move and he was far from happy when told about it.

"What happened? What happened?" he said. "****. Where is that in the rule book?"

He ended up taking it at his pit stop.

Sky Sports' David Croft said he hadn't seen it happen in a long time.

"In 277 Grands Prix, I've not seen two practice start violations before. But you always learn something new in Formula 1," Croft said. "For Lewis Hamilton, it's a double whammy."

Hamilton called it "ridiculous" and wouldn't let his team forget they pitted him earlier than he wanted.

Post-race, he didn't want to talk about the incident - and barely wanted to talk full-stop.

"Just not the greatest day," he said of the penalty. "It is what it is. It's done now. I take the points that I got and move on."

Asked about coming back to finish third, Hamilton said: "I didn't really do much, I just held my position."

Lewis Hamilton wasn't happy at all.
Lewis Hamilton wasn't happy at all.

In the paddock interviews, Hamilton even appeared to float a conspiracy theory.

"I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong," he said.

"I'm pretty sure no one's got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous. I didn't put anyone in danger, I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned about it. But it is what it is."

It also means that with two more penalties, he's another two penalties away from a race ban.

Hamilton didn't mince his words as to what motivated the penalties after he was asked whether it seemed excessive.

"Of course it is," he said. "They're doing everything... of course it is. It's to be expected. They're trying to stop me, aren't they?"

Asked if he really thought that, he said: "Of course. But it's OK, I just need to keep my head down and stay focused and we'll see what happens."

Sky Sports' Johnny Herbert is also in the stewards room from time to time and said: "Every time I'm in there, there's never an inkling that that is the case."

Karun Chandhok said it was Hamilton's second unusual penalty in three races, after he was given a 10-second drive through penalty in the Italian Grand Prix after he pitted under the safety car when the pit lane was closed.

"We've driven at many many race tracks around the world and you know you can't go that far down the pit lane when everyone else is accelerating at full speed and do a practice start," he said.

"It's just something that the stewards are never going to let you get away with. Obviously the adrenaline is still pumping, he's still angry about it, he hasn't had a chance to digest and allow himself to calm back down from the anger from the race. I'm sure if he goes to have a conversation with Michael Masi and the stewards, I think he will understand they're not out to get him."

Lewis Hamilton was far from happy with third.
Lewis Hamilton was far from happy with third.

The race began with two separate crashes on the first lap. The second turn was the most challenging all weekend, having caused chaos in qualifying.

But in the race, drivers who missed the turn had to drive through bollards.

In the first lap, Verstappen made it through safely but McLaren's Carlos Sainz smashed straight into the wall and spun out.

Racing Point's Lance Stroll went out soon after following a racing incident with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

But the next driver affected by the bollard issue was Aussie Daniel Ricciardo.

The Aussie was sitting behind Renault teammate Esteban Ocon, who was struggling to overtake Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. After a few laps, they were told to swap position.

Daniel Ricciardo copped a five second penalty after he locked up when swapping with his teammate.
Daniel Ricciardo copped a five second penalty after he locked up when swapping with his teammate.

Ricciardo locked up on the second corner and went wide, but didn't go through the bollards and copped a five-second penalty on the chin.

"I'll just drive faster," he said when told of the penalty. "That's my bad, I'll make up for it."

And he did, finishing fifth, 10 seconds ahead of Leclerc in sixth, negating his five-second penalty.

It sets up an intriguing midfield battle in the constructors standings with just seven points now separating McLaren in third on 106 points, Racing Point with 104 and Renault in fifth with 99.

But Ricciardo wasn't the only one with corner two dramas as Haas' Romain Grosjean demolished the bollards when he saved himself late from re-entering the track.

RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX FINISHING ORDER

1st: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

2nd: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

3rd: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

4th: Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

5th: Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)

6th: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

7th: Esteban Ocon (Renault)

8th: Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)

9th: Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)

10th: Alexander Albon (Red Bull)

Originally published as Winner's 'f*** you' finish to F1 drama


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