It wasn’t the most exciting race of the 2020 Formula 1 season, however the Russian Grand Prix still had its fair share of chaos, controversy and those who drove well, and those who didn’t.

There were contrasting fortunes in the Mercedes and Red Bull camps and some heroic drives from the midfield runners.

We pick out our winners & losers from the 10th round of the season in Sochi

Winner: Valtteri Bottas

After taking a clean sweep of the Friday practice sessions, Bottas looked to be on point until Hamilton stormed to pole position in qualifying, and Bottas was pushed to second, and then third by Max Verstappen.

A strong start off the line for the race allowed Bottas to sweep past Verstappen and almost overtake Hamilton into the first turn, but he had to settle for second after a “massive bee” distracted him.

Bottas was gifted the lead after Hamilton pitted to serve his 10-second time penalty while stopping to take on a set of Hard tyres. From then on, it was Bottas’ race to lose.

He drove a seamless and trouble-free race, and capped it off with his trademark “to whom it may concern” radio message, no doubt a sting to his haters, but can he really reproduce the same result at the Nurburgring in two weeks?

It remains to be seen….

Loser: Lewis Hamilton

It was a race to forget for Lewis Hamilton, who was in trouble before the race even started for doing an illegal practice start, subsequently resulting in the Brit receiving a time penalty, which damaged his hopes of equalling Michael Schumacher’s 91 wins record.

Hamilton was pitted early, and argued with race engineer Peter Bonnington about whether they had made the right call, and also claimed he was being “slowed down” by the FIA race stewards.

The look of disappointment on Hamilton’s face at the end of the race was clearly evident. The only good news for the Brit was that the FIA decided to reverse the two penalty points it had initially handed him, giving him some much-needed breathing space away from a possible race ban.

Winner: Max Verstappen

Max’s magnificent qualifying lap yesterday earned him a well deserved second place on the starting grid today.

A slow start handed Valtteri Bottas second place, and Verstappen continued his sluggish start performance into the first turn, running wide and allowing Daniel Ricciardo past him.

However, this was not the case for long as Max would catch Ricciardo, take back third place and slide back into second once Hamilton was into the pits.

It was another solid race for Verstappen, who split both Mercedes and continues to impress with his strong form and ability to extract the absolute maximum from his machinery.

Loser: Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz’s race was a short and disappointing one.

The Spaniard has no one but himself to blame after running wide at Turn 1 and taking the escape path between the bollards at too high a speed, resulting in him rather clumsily smashing into the wall at the exit and retiring from the Grand Prix.

It was made even more disappointing by the missed opportunity McLaren and Sainz had today to score some valuable points in their ongoing Constructors battle over third place.

Winner: Sergio Perez

After entering this Grand Prix weekend doubting his team’s honesty and missing out on the upgraded parts his teammate received instead, Sergio Perez was definitely on the back foot.

However, a strong qualifying performance from the Mexican yesterday placed him in his equal-best starting position of 4th for the race.

Perez was ultimately challenged by the Renaults of Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo, but drove hard and held on to a solid fourth place finish as he looks to end his last season with Racing Point on a high.

Loser: Alex Albon

Albon missed the chance to build on his maiden F1 podium from the last round in Mugello as he was brought back down to earth with a disappointing weekend in Russia.

Despite his recent improved performances, Albon trailed Red Bull teammate Verstappen by over a second in qualifying as he could only qualify 10th on the grid.

His race was made more difficult after picking up a grid drop for a gearbox penalty but his recovery was not particularly emphatic, while Verstappen split the Mercedes in qualifying and the race in second.

Albon was off the pace and struggled to make his way through the pack, ultimately scoring the final point on offer in a low-key run to 10th despite also picking up a five-second time penalty.

Winner: Charles Lecerc

Leclerc once again made the most of difficult circumstances for Ferrari to finish inside the points and claim the team’s best result in five races with a solid run to sixth place.

Having survived a tangle with Racing Point’s Stroll on the opening lap, Leclerc moved up the order and jumped Ocon’s Renault on strategy, before closing out P6 with one of the performances of the day.

The Monegasque was left extremely satisfied with his efforts and believes Ferrari took a “good step forward” as it introduced some minor updates at Sochi.

Loser: Sochi Autodrom

For a 2020 Formula 1 season that has been exciting at every turn, the Russian Grand Prix proved to be anything but.

Despite a first-lap crash and chaos which saw two drivers retire, the Sochi circuit lacked the energy and overtakes of its predecessors.

This race further illustrated that the Russian Grand Prix is not a race that needs to stick around, particularly when Formula 1 has so many other, more exciting venues that could take its place.

Who was your biggest winner and loser from the Russian Grand Prix? What do you think about Lewis Hamilton’s penalties? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to like and subscribe to Crash F1.

Jordy Gray contributed to this article.



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