In this season’s Russian Grand Prix of 2020 Leclerc was in fact happy to finish 6th having had a miserable qualifying experience and starting on eleventh place on the grid. It’s a testimony to the problems with the car this season that Ferrari’s drivers are more often battling for a place in the middle of the pack than for a place on the podium.
Charles did well relative to his team-mate ending up four tenths of a second quicker than Sebastian Vettel in qualifying and then succeeding in taking an impressive sixth in the race proper, crossing the line more than 40 seconds clear of Vettel.
LeClerc and Verstappen
What we are deprived of, because of the Ferrari car’s failings, is the battle of the two emerging stars Leclerc and Verstappen. Verstappen like Leclerc finds a way to outperform his car’s capabilities at Red Bull, first qualifying a brilliant second at Sochi and then second place on the podium, splitting the two Mercedes.
Back in the points today, P6. Some positive signs for the future 💪 pic.twitter.com/kSDoV6UIUJ
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) September 27, 2020
Hamilton’s Assault on Schumacher’s Record
Like last year it should have ended up a one two for the silver arrows with the added bonus this year of Hamilton equalling Schumacher’s record of 91 Formula 1 wins. But third was the best Lewis Hamilton could manage on one of his worst weekends of the year, even though he made pole. He picked up not one but two five-second time penalties for doing illegal practice starts on the laps to the grid before eventually battling his way to third. Mind you a bad weekend for Hamilton was still his 159th career podium and maintains his record of having finished in the top four at every race Sochi has ever held. But Hamilton expected far better, having succeeded with six wins in nine races this season to open up a 55-point lead ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the title race. But his assault on Schumacher’s record will have to wait for another time.
First Lap Madness
The pattern nowadays is for a lot to happen on the first lap and definitely so at the Sochi Autodrom in Russia. And this time, it was Charles Leclerc involved in a collision with Lance Stroll.
Starting from P11, Leclerc had mastered the first couple of turns well. But eventually, the bunching of cars in the midfield undid him. And the outcome was Stroll was knocked out of the race.
Leclerc had tried to go on the inside of Lance in Turn four. Then in the middle of the corner, Perez took the apex while LeClerc under-steered in his wake and made contact with the rear of Lance Stroll’s Red Bull.
It was certainly a moment of madness on the first lap, which also saw Bottas almost take the lead. At Turn 3, Carlos Sainz went off the track too and crashed into the bollards. As the track was jam-packed, the Leclerc mishap was judged to be more of a genuine racing accident than mischievous driving and the stewards decided not to penalize him.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 26, 2020
It was Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas who ended up scoring his second win of the season at the Sochi Grand Prix, advantaged by penalties against Lewis Hamilton who was on pole. Bottas had passed Verstappen for second at the race start, enjoying a clean run from thereon in to the finish for the ninth win of his career (at the track where he scored his first back in 2017). It was an important win for Bottas, his previous victory being at the July season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
- Bottas Mercedes
- Verstappen Red Bull
- Hamilton Mercedes
- Perez Racing Point
- Riccardo Renault
- Leclerc Ferrari