Lewis Hamilton continues championship run with bitter sweet victory in Sochi
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News September 30, 2018 Updated: 1:01 PM PT
SOCHI, Russia — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton captured his eighth win of the season and the 70th win of his career as he extends his growing lead in the championship over title rival Sebastian Vettel at Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
However, it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Mercedes team after they were forced to make the tough decision to have Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas relinquish his position after they were concerned that Vettel was beginning to close in on Hamilton after he was able to gain position on him during his pit stop. But, the reigning champion would retake his position a few laps later.
Bottas was currently second, trailing behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who had yet to pit and was leading the race after making a monster charge up the field from 19th.
Verstappen’s pace was enough to keep Bottas off of him but at the same time began to back Hamilton into Vettel which forced team orders to be issued. Bottas would eventually move to the side letting his championship leading teammate through at Turn 13.
Despite extending his lead in the championship, the bitter sweet results of the decision were reflexed in Hamilton’s words after the race.
“Yeah, it’s actually quite a difficult day,” said Hamilton. “Valtteri did a fantastic job all weekend and he was a real gentleman to let me by. Obviously he’s not fighting for the championship, whereas we are. It’s just been such a great weekend for the team. The team have done such an exceptional job to have this advantage on Ferrari and to have a one-two.”
“Usually you would be just elated, but I can understand how difficult it is for Valtteri but really he did a fantastic job today and he deserved to win. But championship-wise, as a team we are trying to win both championships and I think today it was a real team effort. Whilst it doesn’t feel spectacular, I know he is going to do great in the following races to come,” he said.
Vettel now trails 50 points to Hamilton in what was another crucial weekend for the German driver. Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth followed by Verstappen, who finally pitted on lap 43 and still finished with an impressive recovery drive in fifth.
Teammate Daniel Ricciardo also finished the day strong in sixth after starting from 20th. Charles Leclerc, who heads to Ferrari next season, grabbed another positive result for Sauber in seventh ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in eighth.
The Mercedes team was not the only ones to use team orders on Sunday as the team issued them to Esteban Ocon and giving teammate Sergio Perez an opportunity to attack Kevin Magnussen before swapping back later after Perez wasn’t able to find a way past him and going to finish ninth and tenth.
Magnussen’s Haas teammate Romain Grosjean finished 11th with the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg in 12th and the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson in 13th.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso finished 14th ahead of Williams driver Lance Stroll in 15th who split the two McLaren’s with Stoffel Vandoorne in 16th.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz and the second Williams of Sergey Sirotkin made the final two cars on the grid after Toro Rosso drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley suffered break related issues on both of their cars and were forced to retire from the race.