Lewis Hamilton takes the Russia GP with the help of teammate, Valtteri Bottas, thus putting him firmly in the favour of defending his title. Bottas was ordered to let him pass just over halfway through Sunday’s race.
It was Hamilton’s eighth win in the season with Vettel still trailing behind with 5 wins. The victory was Hamilton’s 70th career win and brings him closer to his fifth F1 crown. Bottas held on to come second and Vettel came third. For Ferrari.
It was a great day for Mercedes, extending their dominance in the Russia circuit with 3 out of 3 but Hamilton was full of sympathy for Bottas.
‘It’s actually been a difficult day,’ he admitted.
‘Valtteri did a fantastic job all weekend. He was a real gentleman to let me through, but he’s not fighting for the championship like me.’
Finland’s Bottas, still seeking his first win of the season, could not mask his obvious disappointment.
‘Personally, I found it quite a difficult race. We (Mercedes) always have a plan, but it’s always difficult to predict what is going to happen in a race. It is what it is.’
After a slow pit stop, Hamilton briefly found himself behind Vettel before completing an audacious overtaking move on the German to reclaim his track position
Shortly after came tense exchanges on the Mercedes team radio, with a clearly disgruntled Bottas ordered to allow Hamilton through and into second place in the race behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Verstappen eventually took a superb fifth place to mark his 21st birthday behind the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, with his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in sixth.
Next seasons replacement for Raikkonen, Charles Leclerc, again served notice of his promise with a brilliant seventh for Sauber, with Kevin Magnussen eighth for Haas, ahead of the Force India pair of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.
Mercedes has also increased its lead in the constructors’ championship to 53 points over Ferrari. The next race is the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka in a fortnight.