Bottas may delay Hamilton’s rendezvous with F1 history

Sports Desk, Sep 25 (efe-epa).- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) will match Michael Schumacher’s record for most wins if he prevails in the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, but the Briton may have to wait for his 91st victory if teammate Valtteri Bottas’ performance in Friday’s practice is any indication.

The Finn set the fastest time around the track at the Sochi Autodrom, 1:33.519, more than a quarter-second faster than six-time world champion Hamilton.

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), second only to Bottas in Free Practice 1, took third place in FP2, followed by the two McLaren drivers, Spaniard Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris of Britain.

Mexican competitor Sergio “Checo” Perez (Racing Point) grabbed the sixth spot, ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), who is coming off successive DNFs in the Italian and Tuscan races after one win and five podiums in the six previous events.

Eighth place went to Monaco’s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), while Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Renault) was ninth.

German four-time champion Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) completed the top 10. It is a mark of how bad this season this has been for the Scuderia that taking the eighth and 10th spots in FP2 represents progress.

Mercedes has won all six prior Russian GP races and seem set to extend their dominance on Sunday, with the only suspense being whether Hamilton will claim his 91st victory.

The 35-year-old Briton, who has won four times at Sochi, is well on his way to equaling Schumacher by winning the F1 championship for a seventh time.

Hamilton leads the 2020 driver standings with 190 points, 55 more than Bottas and 80 more than Verstappen.

“Obviously we’re talking about big numbers,” Bottas said Thursday regarding Hamilton’s victories. “Obviously I’ll try to make it (the 91st win) not happen this weekend, I’m here to win, but, anyway, it’s just a matter of time that Lewis will get that.”

FP1 was interrupted for nearly 30 minutes, as both Sainz and Canada’s Nicholas Latifi (Williams) had to return to their respective garages for repairs after crashes.

Hamilton also struggled in FP1, coming in 19th thanks to a pair of lock-ups.

One thing that may be on the drivers’ minds heading into Saturday’s qualifying is that the last pole-sitter to win at Sochi was Nico Rosberg in 2016. EFE mam/dr

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