Bottas took a lights to flag ‘victory’ but will have pole taken away due to grid penalties. This means Verstappen takes an unlikely pole, while McLaren round out the top 3. Hamilton had a Saturday to forget and will start 4th, with potential championship ramifications on the line.
Bottas and Verstappen got off the line well, but Hamilton fell backwards from 3rd. The two McLaren cars swamped the world champion at the start and Gasly made it past too. However, the Frenchman had slight contact with one of the McLarens and damaged his front wing. This would later become completely detached and his car was propelled into the barriers. This bought out the safety car.
There was also a tangle between Tsunoda and Kubica on lap one, Tsunoda had nowhere to go and the contact led to Kubica stuck in the gravel through turn 4.
Bottas stormed off from the restart and there were no immediate changes throughout the grid. One lap later and his lead was 1.6s from Verstappen. The cars remained in formation, waiting for the DRS to activate.
After it was activated, Hamilton was not immediately able to find a way past Norris in front.
On lap 9 Perez was forced off track attempting to overtake Stroll. Perez didn’t initially give the position back and they were side by side through turn 3. This was later rectified, but an unusual scenario to see. One lap later, the Mexican was able to complete the move. the Mexican was placed under investigation, but no action was taken.
With 6 laps to go, Hamilton was still stuck behind Norris. The two cars had different tyres with the McLaren wearing the softer compound. It was looking unlikely that Hamilton would make it past, unless the tyres dropped off considerably.
But, it was not to be, as Hamilton was forced to remain behind Norris. Bottas won the race, but grid penalties will drop him to the back of the grid. This elevates Verstappen to pole and it means that Norris and Ricciardo will move up to 2nd and 3rd. Hamilton will start 4th, on the dirty side of the grid. Leclerc and Sainz pulled out a strong performance for Ferrari while Giovinazzi impressed at his home race, and his position will be promoted to 7th. Perez recovered to 9th while Stroll finished in the top 10 on the track.
This was exactly what Hamilton would not have wanted. A simple sprint race with a switch between the Mercedes drivers was the plan, but now, it looks like a far trickier affair. Bottas showed exactly how the Mercedes is set to run in clean air and, to make matters worse, the McLarens in his way have the same engines has him.
Tomorrow could be pivotal in the title fight.
*Bottas will start 2oth, all drivers promoted by 1 place for race start.
- Gasly (RET)
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