Tuesday. 20.02.2024

Lewis Hamilton must wait to equal Michael Schumacher's Formula One record of 91 race victories after two five-second time penalties allowed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to win the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was penalized for an illegal practice start before the race, as he completed two practice starts on his recognition laps, including one towards the end of the pit-lane exit, which was against instructions.

The total ten-second penalty dropped the pole sitter from the lead into the middle of the pack, from where he recovered to third.

"It doesn't matter, it's done now," Hamilton said about his two peanlties.

"I'll just take the points I've got and move on now. Congratulations to Valtteri."

Hamilton also got two penalty points, but later on Sunday the governing FIA decided to remove the penalty points imposed and instead fine Mercedes 25,000 euros (29,000 dollars).

He remains on eight penalty points. Any driver who reaches 12 points in a 12-month period receives a one-race ban.

44 points behind

Bottas began third but overtook Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the start and easily held on to his ninth career win and second this year after the season-opener in Austria. He is now 44 points behind leader Hamilton in the title race.

The Finn was able to keep Mercerdes domination in Sochi. Since 2014 they are the only F1 team to win the Russian Grand Prix, and are now with seven triumphs around the 5.848-kilometre track.

"Once I was in clean air, the pace was awesome," the Finn said. "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."

The race started at a hectic pace, with two separate incidents by lap 1 ending the run for McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Racing Point's Lance Stroll.

Sainz clattered the wall with his front left, while Stroll banged wheels with Charles Leclerc and also crashed into the wall, bringing out the safety car.

Verstappen was second in the Sochi race, which was watched by around 30,000 fans - the biggest attendance this season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"After the restart we were a bit slower on the mediums, but once we got on the hard tyres we were more competitive. We split the Mercedes cars, so we can be happy with that," the Dutchman said.

Five-second penalty

Sergio Perez recovered from falling behind the Renaults at the start to win best-of-the-rest and finish fourth with his Racing Point car.

Renault's Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth despite a five-second time penalty for cutting over the kerbs on turn 2 after being allowed by team-mate Esteban Ocon to attack. The Frenchman was seventh.

"I'm quite happy with the outcome," Ricciardo said. "I knew I made some mistakes but I quickly snapped out of it and recovered well."

Ferrari had a good result as Charles Leclerc jumped from 10th on the grid to sixth. His team-mate Sebastian Vettel was not so lucky and finished 13th.

If Hamilton didn't manage to equal Schumacher's record, Kimi Raikkonen didn't have problems in matching Rubens Barrichello's record of most F1 starts. Now both drivers have 322.

Hamilton will still be chasing Schumacher's overall win record as the season continues in Germany on October 11.

Bottas wins Russian Grand Prix; Hamilton must wait for record