RUSSIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton edges closer to a fifth title after team orders allows him to extend championship lead

Testing & Race Reports

Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead at the top of the championship to fifty points as he took his third victory at the Russian Grand Prix. Hamilton got into the lead after his Mercedes team instructed his teammate Valtteri Bottas to allow him to pass with ten laps to go.

Bottas had led the race until lap twenty five, until he was instructed to release his teammate because he was under pressure from his title rival Sebastian Vettel. The team were concerned that Hamilton would had been passed by Vettel if he undercut the Mercedes.

The Finn had been under pressure from Vettel, who had been in between able to jump in between the Mercedes during the pitstops. Bottas was also trapped behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in the early stages.

The key moment came when Bottas stopped first, when Hamilton gained time before hitting traffic. That lead to Bottas being placed into the trap of the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s.

Bottas was unhappy with the instruction as Mercedes prioritized Hamilton’s title quest. Bottas was told over team radio by Silver Arrows boss Toto Wolff as he crossed the line ahead of Vettel, “We will talk about it later”

Hamilton reflected: “It was a difficult day. Valtteri was a real gentleman to let me through.” The four times champion was rather subdue by the team orders, with his first reaction to thank Bottas to allow him to pass.

Vettel said “I think everybody had more or less the same pace. I tried my best to put pressure on Valtteri but I couldn’t get close enough. It was a good race, I think we were closer today but obviously not the result that we want.”

Hamilton win gives him a fifty point lead with five races remaining and one hundred and twenty-five points remaining. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen lead the mid part of the race before making a late pit stop and re-joined third ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn who had stopped early on, had no response to the Dutchman’s pace after the late stop. Verstappen was also showing the pace he had used early on in the race to fend off Raikkonen, who struggled with his pace which allowed the Ferrari to remain in front.

It was an impressive drive from Verstappen and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo to come from the back of the grid to finish fifth and sixth. Red Bull will be happy with that result, despite them leading early on as it shows they have pace in the car.

Verstappen arguably was the best driver in the race, he celebrated his twenty first birthday by charging through the field to lead the race. But, ultimately was unable to run close through the last ten laps following his stop, voted driver of the day for his efforts.

Charles Leclerc finished seventh, having ran as high as fifth early on while the Red Bulls were making their way through the field. The Monacan has earnt himself a seat with Ferrari for next season and has scored his best result of the season.

Leclerc started fifth and was able to retain the position, and finished ahead of both the Haas’s and Force India’s, allowing him to take his first ‘best of the rest’ result.

Haas’s Kevin Magnussen held off both the Force India’s for eighth. Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were allowed a limited battle at the Dane, the team instructed Ocon to allow Perez to pass to try and attack Magnussen. He ultimately failed, with the team reversing the order.

The only two retirements from the race were Toro Rosso drivers Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly, who both suffered brake issues early in the race.

The causes was not immediately determined but Toro Rosso had changed the rear brake duct blanking before the start.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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