Hamilton Wins in Controversial Race in Russia
SOCHI, Russia—R.I.S.—After seeing Max Verstappen pit with 10 laps to go in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom in Sochi, Russia, Lewis Hamilton took over the lead and went on to win, leading a Mercedes 1-2 ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Sebastian Vettel in third.
The victory by Hamilton now puts him 50 points ahead of Vettel in the world driving championship with five races remaining. But the main story was how the effect of team orders can be during a race, and this was seen when the Bottas was forced to pull aside at the quarter point of the race to let Hamilton through. The incident showed in the face of Bottas. However, Hamilton himself was not a fan of this idea.
"Honestly,” Hamilton explained afterwards, “When I got the call that they had said that to Valtteri (Bottas), I don't know if you heard me, but I just said 'tell him to speed up. So they told me on the radio that Valtteri is going to let you go, which is not what I wanted, and I just said 'tell him to speed up' because I had Sebastian on my tail and it was getting quite close. Naturally, passing him didn't feel good in that instance, in Turn 13 and I don't know what was planned for the end," he added. "I was waiting to get some news or something like that.”
Bottas had a clear start in the race and lead the first 12 laps before pitting. Hamilton took over the lead until he pitted, coming back into the race behind Vettel in fifth. By this time, Verstappen, racing on his 21st birthday, after starting the race from 19th position due to an engine change, came alive and was up to fifth after 16 laps. Verstappen suddenly found himself in the lead and conserved his tires for most of the race, not pitting once. The Dutchman led for 39 laps, as Hamilton finally found his way around Vettel and took third behind Bottas.
But word came down from Team Manager Toto Wolff that since Hamilton started to develop a blister on one of his tires, it would be wiser to have Bottas pull aside and let Hamilton assume second place. This was done on lap 25, and Hamilton as he could try, had a problem trying to pass Verstappen and could only be relieved when the Dutchman pitted for fresh tire 10 laps from the end, in addition to saving his new engine, which he had worked hard throughout the race. This gave Hamilton another win, finishing two and a half seconds ahead of Bottas.
Strangely enough, only two cars retired from the race, Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly both simultaneously had their brakes fail on lap five.
Kimi Raikkonen had a quiet day in his Ferrari and finished in fifth, while Verstappen after coming out from his pit stop, took sixth. Daniel Ricciardo never recovered following running over debris early in the race, and finished in sixth, while Charles LeClerc continued his consistent point finishes, this time seventh. Kevin Magnussen was the only point finisher for the American Haas F1 Team in eighth, while Etseban Ocon and Sergio Perez took ninth and tenth, respectively, in their Force Indias. The other Haas driver, Romain Grosjean, ended up in 11th.
Considering the situation, even though it gets the Briton closer to clinching the world title for the fifth time, Hamilton found it difficult how to win under different circumstances.
“I definitely don't think I have ever finished first and felt the way I do right now.” Hamilton continued. “It's definitely a very conflicting feeling because naturally you want to extend the championship lead and we are a team, yet there's two championships -- a team championship and a drivers' championship -- so it's quite a conflicting season and team effort. But, anyways, I mean as I said, Valtteri has done an exceptional job all weekend and did a great job with qualifying yesterday and you could see how happy I was for him there."
RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX
At Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia
Final race results
1 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes
2 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes—2.5 seconds behind
3 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
4 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
5 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
6 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing
7 Charles LeClerc (MON) Sauber
8 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
9 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
10 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
11 Romain Grojean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
12 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
13 Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
14 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren
15 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams
16 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren
17 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault
18 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) Williams
19 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso-lap 5- brakes
20 Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso- lap 5- brakes
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.