Lewis Hamilton snatched victory at the Russian Grand Prix, after driving comfortably through most of the race and leading Mercedes to a one-two finish.
The Mercedes driver now takes a stronger hold on his likely sixth World Championship, distancing himself from his partner Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
The Russian Grand Prix started out well for Ferrari as Vettel started in third place and overtook Hamilton and Leclerc to gain an early lead.
However, mid-way through the race, Vettel had to retire from the race due to engine problems.
Mercedes received the break that they needed as a result of Vettel’s car being in a position which required the use of the safety car. With Hamilton in the lead and yet to pit, the safety car allowed the Mercedes driver a free stop for tires and the lead in the race.
When the race resumed, Mercedes maintained the lead and cruised through a fairly easy race to win the Grand Prix. Ferrari’s recent strong run of victories came to an end with a very disappointing result. Leclerc finished the race behind both Mercedes drivers and lost ground in the standings.
As for the rest of the pack, Red Bull had a productive race as both Max Verstappen and Alex Albon finished fourth and fifth respectively. Verstappen started in ninth place, yet made up ground throughout the race with some luck after Vettel’s exit which allowed him to gain the fourth spot.
McLaren driver Carlos Sainz was sixth, ahead of Sergio Perez in the Racing Point. Rounding out the top ten were Lando Norris of McLaren, Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Nico Hulkenberg in a Renault.
Team orders cost Ferrari
Ferrari had a positive start to the race, however, it was their own collapse which cost them first and second place. Vettel needed to retire with an engine failure, while Leclerc dropped from first to third.
Before crashing out, Ferrari had team orders which Vettel did not obey during the race. Vettel got the start that he needed to take over Leclerc, but a curious pre-race arrangement had Leclerc asking on the radio for the roles to be reversed.
Ferrari had agreed before the race that if Vettel benefited from Leclerc’s poor start and moved ahead of the Frenchman off the start line, he would need to give up his position. This led Leclerc to protest over the radio.
Ferrari continued to ask Vettel to have Leclerc pass him, yet the driver refused to listen to team orders. He feared that slowing down and dropping to second place would have exposed him to Hamilton.
Hulkenberg proving a point
Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg finished the race in tenth place. The driver made a strong case today for teams who are looking for a new driver for the upcoming year.
Renault’s recent decision to not keep him for next season had him deliver a strong race in Russia and display why a team should sign him.
Red Bull fourth and fifth after a poor qualifying
After starting in ninth, Verstappen worked his way up the grid to fourth place. The Dutch driver maintained a good performance, managing his tires and driving a strong race.
After a disappointing qualifying session, the red bull driver made it up to his team. Although the driver had some luck today with Vettel exiting from the race, he will be pleased with his performance.
His race partner also followed up with a great performance. Albon started in the back of the pack, however, drove very strong finishing in fifth place.