F1 star Lewis Hamilton promised Russian President Vladimir Putin that he wouldn’t “spray him with champagne this time” as the pair shared a joke after the British driver won the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.
Hamilton clinched victory on Sunday ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – Hamilton’s main title rival – finishing third.
UK star Hamilton is a familiar face on the podium in Sochi, having won there in 2014 and 2015, and finishing second in 2016.
As on previous occasions, Russian leader Putin was on hand to present Hamilton with this trophy on Sunday, and the pair were overheard sharing a joke about Hamilton’s exuberant celebrations from back in 2015, when he appeared to spray Putin with bubbly.
This time I won’t spray you with champagne,” Hamilton was heard telling Putin in the drivers’ room after the race, before hastily adding: “it wasn’t me last time, it was someone else.”
A smiling Putin took the joke well, congratulating the reigning F1 champion and saying: “I’m accustomed to awarding you something each year, year after year… you’re doing well.”
The driver was true to his word minutes later when Putin presented Hamilton with his winner’s trophy on the podium, with the champagne celebrations coming when the Russian leader was well out of range.
The win in Sochi moves Hamilton 50 points clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the top of the drivers’ championship, as the Mercedes man seeks a second consecutive title and fifth in total.
The British driver’s celebrations on Sunday were muted, however, with his win coming after Mercedes bosses had ordered teammate Valtteri Bottas – who had appeared quicker – to let Hamilton pass him to give him a clear run at victory.
The win was rather controversial, given the circumstances that it was achieved in. Bottas had every right to be upset as he has not scored a win at all this season. Also, on occasions