After a week of rest, the Formula 1 Championship moves to Sochi for the tenth round of the 2020 season. This weekend marks Sebastian Vettel's 250th Grand Prix start.
Lights out and chaos
A dramatic start takes place at the Sochi Autodrom, as the Safety Car is called out on the first lap. Seemingly involved in a collision, both Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz hit the barriers and are forced to retire, as Lando Norris, Alex Albon and George Russell are all affected by the chaos. At the restart, Lewis Hamilton is able to keep teammate Bottas at bay, with Max Verstappen closely following. However, Bottas can count on a double 5-second time penalty for the six-time World Champion for practice start violations earlier today, both served during the pit stop.
Hamilton is not the only one being caught up with race direction sanctions today. Ricciardo receives a 5-second time penalty for failing to follow race direction instructions, just as Renault was starting to show some serious pace. Vettel and Leclerc are on the same tyre strategy, but different timing means the Monegasque sits in P6, while Vettel sits in P16 at over the halfway mark. Leclerc also has to be wary of Ricciardo's speed in P5, as the latter's penalty could mean a bump in the standings for the Ferrari driver. In the meantime, Hamilton has been able to come back all the way to P3.
Further in the back and in the final stages of the race, a VSC is called to repair bollard damage: Gasly's strategy suffers from this call, as the Frenchman gets pitted right as the VSC ends.
In the end, Sebastian Vettel can't properly celebrate his career milestone, way out of the points in P13, as the race is eventually decided by Hamilton's penalties, with the Brit closing the podium behind Max Verstappen and race winner Valtteri Bottas.
Written by Aurora Dell'Agli