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Lewis Hamilton wins Russian Grand Prix in 1-2 victory for Mercedes

30 September 2019 - Autoblog

Lewis Hamilton wins Russian Grand Prix in 1-2 victory for Mercedes

Ferrari's team order drama cost the Scuderia a possible win

Lewis Hamilton coasted to a comfortable victory and led a Mercedes one-two finish at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday to tighten his grip on a sixth World Championship.

In a calamitous few laps for Ferrari, the Italian team threw away a possible one-two finish of its own after Sebastian Vettel broke down and Charles Leclerc dropped from first to third.

Valtteri Bottas followed teammate Hamilton home at the Sochi Autodrome as Mercedes secured the full quota of points.

Hamilton now leads Bottas in the championship by 73 points. Leclerc is 107 points behind the British driver.

Max Verstappen finished fourth ahead of Red Bull teammate Alex Albon, who started last after he crashed out during qualifying.

"What an effort, guys," said a jubilant Hamilton on the radio after the race. "What an incredible job. That is exactly what we needed. We never give up."

Ferrari had already got themselves into a needless mess before Vettel retired with an engine failure on lap 28.

Vettel got the jump on pole-sitter Leclerc on the long drag down to the second corner but a curious pre-race arrangement had Leclerc calling for the roles to be reversed.

It appears that the team had agreed that if Vettel benefited from Leclerc's slipstream and moved ahead of the Frenchman off the start line, he would have to concede the position.

Ferrari were on the radio to tell Vettel to let Leclerc by, but the four-time world champion resisted the order.

Leclerc protested over the radio.

"You put me behind and I respected everything," he said. "We will talk later."

The Ferrari pit wall were on to Vettel again, but again the German refused to let his teammate pass, fearing that he would be exposed to Hamilton in third place if he slowed down.

Leclerc was the first to stop on lap 22, but instead of calling in Vettel the next time around Vettel was left on old tires as his teammate put in several fast laps on his fresh tires.

Four laps after Leclerc pitted, Vettel was eventually called in and by the time he emerged he had fallen behind his teammate and into second place.

Just moments later disaster struck as Vettel broke down with an engine failure.

It was then to get worse for the Scuderia. With Vettel's broken down machine in a precarious position, the virtual safety car was deployed to slow down the field, allowing Hamilton, who had yet to pit, a free stop for tires and the lead of the race.

George Russell then crashed out in his Williams and the full safety car was deployed. Ferrari decided to pit Leclerc and put him on new tires for the remaining 20 laps.

But their decision saw him lose a position to Bottas, and on a track where overtaking is difficult, Leclerc was unable to pass the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton crossed the line 3.8 seconds clear of his teammate to claim his ninth win of the season and end Ferrari's three-race winning streak.

"It is incredible to have this result considering how quick (Ferrari) were off the start," said Hamilton. "To keep up with them was an incredibly hard task."

Reflecting on his probable sixth title, the Mercedes driver added: "I try not to think about the championship and take it one race at a time.

"We don't want to stumble. It feels like a long time coming, but the first time, too, so that is why this win is special."

Leclerc, meanwhile, declined to blame the team or his teammate for the mid-race drama.

"I will always trust the team but the tactic was me giving the slipstream and for us to be one-two, which happened, but then I don't know.

"I need to speak to the team to know the situation better."

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz was sixth, ahead of Sergio Perez in a Racing Point. Rounding out the top ten were Lando Norris of McLaren, Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Nico Hulkenberg in a Renault.

FORMULA 1 VTB RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX 2019 - RACE RESULT

27-29 Sep 2019 Sochi Autodrom, Sochi

144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES531:33:38.99226
277Valtteri BottasMERCEDES53+3.829s18
316Charles LeclercFERRARI53+5.212s15
433Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA53+14.210s12
523Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA53+38.348s10
655Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT53+45.889s8
711Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES53+48.728s6
84Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT53+57.749s4
920Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI53+58.779s2
1027Nico HulkenbergRENAULT53+59.841s1
1118Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES53+60.821s0
1226Daniil KvyatSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA53+62.496s0
137Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI53+68.910s0
1410Pierre GaslySCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA53+70.076s0
1599Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI53+73.346s0
NC88Robert KubicaWILLIAMS MERCEDES28DNF0
NC63George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES27DNF0
NC5Sebastian VettelFERRARI26DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRENAULT24DNF0
NC8Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI0DNF0

Note - Magnussen received a 5-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. Hamilton scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

2019 Driver Standings

1Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES322
2Valtteri BottasFINMERCEDES249
3Charles LeclercMONFERRARI215
4Max VerstappenNEDRED BULL RACING HONDA212
5Sebastian VettelGERFERRARI194
6Pierre GaslyFRASCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA69
7Carlos SainzESPMCLAREN RENAULT66
8Alexander AlbonTHARED BULL RACING HONDA52
9Lando NorrisGBRMCLAREN RENAULT35
10Daniel RicciardoAUSRENAULT34
11Nico HulkenbergGERRENAULT34
12Daniil KvyatRUSSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA33
13Sergio PerezMEXRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES33
14Kimi RäikkönenFINALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI31
15Kevin MagnussenDENHAAS FERRARI20
16Lance StrollCANRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES19
17Romain GrosjeanFRAHAAS FERRARI8
18Antonio GiovinazziITAALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI4
19Robert KubicaPOLWILLIAMS MERCEDES1
20George RussellGBRWILLIAMS MERCEDES0

2019 Constructor Standings

1MERCEDES571
2FERRARI409
3RED BULL RACING HONDA311
4MCLAREN RENAULT101
5RENAULT68
6SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA55
7RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES52
8ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI35
9HAAS FERRARI28
10WILLIAMS MERCEDES1

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