Article content continued
Valtteri Bottas was third for Mercedes, having taken the fastest lap after a late stop for fresh tires, in another big setback for the Finn.
Verstappen has now beaten Bottas in the last four races and been second to Hamilton in three of them. Hamilton has 132 points to Verstappen’s 95, with Bottas falling further behind on 89.
“The weakness for Valtteri today was the start. He caught up to Max but he couldn’t overtake as the soft tires didn’t work as expected,” commented Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Verstappen had lined up third on the grid but grabbed second at the start as Bottas was squeezed on both sides and dropped to fourth, taking back third place four laps later.
Canadian Lance Stroll took fourth place for Racing Point with Mexican team mate Sergio Perez ahead of him at the finish, on a one-stop strategy, but with a five-second penalty for ignoring blue warning flags.
Stroll had seized third at the start with an impressive surge past his team mate, who was returning from two weeks in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I saw a gap on the inside went for it, and it really set me up,” said the Canadian, whose team were again protested by Renault afterwards as at the previous four races. Stewards applied a reprimand, as before.
Racing Point have already been docked 15 points and fined 400,000 euros for a breach of the sporting regulations with a car that is a close copy of last year’s Mercedes but Renault are appealing for a heavier punishment.