Mercedes continue Sochi winning streak with Hamilton victory

Lewis Hamilton wins ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at the Russian Grand Prix

2019 Russian Grand Prix, Friday - LAT Images

Mercedes remain the only team ever to have won at Sochi as Lewis Hamilton capitalised on errors from Ferrari to secure victory at the Russian Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion finished ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, while pole sitter Charles Leclerc completed the top three.

Sebastian Vettel got the best start and jumped from third up to first by the front corner, while both Mercedes cars, having started on the medium tyre, came under pressure from the McLaren drivers.

By contrast, Kimi Raikkonen made a terrible start, jumping the lights on the grid. The Finn tried to stop, and had to reset the start procedure on his car, meaning he lost places off the line, but was further punished for the false start with a drive-through penalty.

The safety car was out on the opening lap of the race as Antonio Giovinazzi went for a gap inbetween Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean, but both closed the door on the Alfa Romeo. Ricciardo picked up a puncture and had to limp back to the pitlane, but Grosjean went sliding into the barrier, ending his race after just a couple of corners.

Having been passed by his teammate off the line, Leclerc was told by Ferrari that his teammate would be told to let him through, but the four-time champion disagreed, claiming the Monegasque driver was too far behind.

Lelerc was the first of the frontrunners to come in for new tyres, and pushed in clear air to ensure Vettel would come out behind him after the race leader made his pitstop.

All the Honda-powered cars took grid penalties in order to fit new engines, but Max Verstappen made his way up to fifth inside the opening 20 laps, while Alexander Albon, having started in the pitlane after changing further parts following his qualifying crash, climbed up to the points positions.

Vettel did come out behind Leclerc after making his stop, but immediately had problems, complaining of a lap of power. He was instructed to pull his Ferrari off the track due to an MGU-K failure, resulting in a virtual safety car.

The VSC period offered the Mercedes duo, Verstappen and several of the midfield drivers the opportunity to make a cheap pitstop, handing Lewis Hamilton the race lead.

George Russell was among those pitting under the VSC, but the Briton suffered his second straight retirement as the brakes appeared to fail on his Williams as soon as he returned to the track, resulting in his car coming to rest in the barrier and bringing out a full safety car.

Williams also retired Robert Kubica’s car with fears his brakes could be suffering a similar issue, marking the Polish driver’s first DNF of the year, and Williams’ first double retirement of the season, while Renault brought Ricciardo into the garage, with the Australian unable to compete as a result of the damage he sustained on the opening lap.

Leclerc made a second pitstop under the safety car to ensure he was on fresher tyres than the two Mercedes ahead of him after the restart, and attempted to put Bottas under pressure for second place.

Albon also stopped during the safety car, and with newer tyres made up places after the safety car returned to the pitlane, leaving him seventh, before battling with Kevin Magnussen to move up to sixth.

As Magnussen’s tyres started to degrade, the Dane fell back further, and ran off the track while defending against Sergio Perez, earning him a five-second time penalty which gave seventh to Lando Norris.

Albon’s pace towards the end of the race prevented teammate Verstappen from pitting for new tyres to have a shot at taking fastest lap, but Hamilton managed to push in the closing stages to set the best time of the day and take the bonus point.

Provisional classification:

1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)

6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)

7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

8. Lando Norris (McLaren)

9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

11. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

12. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)

13. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

14. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)

15. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)


Robert Kubica (Williams)

George Russell (Williams)

Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)

Romain Grosjean (Haas)

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