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Mercedes Steals Win From Ferrari As Lewis Hamilton Leads Home Unexpected Victory
Formula One

On recent form alone Ferrari should have won the 2019 Russian Grand Prix. The last four races have demonstrated that Ferrari has unlocked the full untapped force of the SF70. The dominance Mercedes enjoyed in the first half of the season has ended. But there is one man who is always willing to put up a fight in the face of insurmountable odds and that man is Lewis Hamilton. He managed to haul his Mercedes to second during qualifying. Separating an expected Ferrari front-row lockout. And on Sunday the power advantage enjoyed by Ferrari was expected to overwhelm the Mercedes team.

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And so it did. Initially. The Ferraris powered off the line, pole-sitter Charles Leclerc got an excellent start, so to did teammate Sebastian Vettel. Vettel took advantage of the long straight leading up to the first corner to slipstream past Leclerc and take the lead. However, Ferrari had discussed a pre-race agreement that apparently stipulated Vettel should give first place back to Leclerc if such a moment occurred. The agreement was designed to fend off the potential threat posed by Hamilton.

Vettel Ignores Team Orders

You cannot expect a four-time world champion to yield to a younger team teammate. Pride always comes before ambition. Vettel did not stick to the terms of the agreement, indeed he had the quicker race pace. Leclerc struggled to keep up and soon fell back by a few seconds. He easily maintained a gap to Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was able to keep in sight of the Ferraris ahead of him but it looked like an impossible task to win the race

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After 23 laps Leclerc pitted first, Ferrari decided to pit Sebastian Vettel 4 laps later which meant Leclerc used the undercut to leapfrog into the lead. But only just. However, Vettel’s race was over just a few corners later as the energy recovery system in his car failed and he rolled to a stop. This brought out a Virtual Safety Car (VSC). At this stage of the race, Hamilton was leading (Mercedes decided to leave Hamilton out for 15 extra laps). Under the VSC Hamilton pitted to change from medium to soft tyres.

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Hamilton effectively had a free-pitstop meaning he retained a comfortable lead over Leclerc. Another safety car period later closed up the field and Ferrari decided to pit Leclerc for a fresh set of soft tyres with 20 laps to go. But this dropped him to third and promoted Bottas to second.

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However, Leclerc did not show enough of a speed advantage to nip past Bottas, eventually, his challenge faded and he settled for third. Mercedes finished 1-2 when it was expecting just a solitary podium at best. Hamilton extends his lead in the driver’s championship to 75 points with five races remaining.

2019 Russian Grand Prix Results: Sochi Autodrom, Sochi

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 1:33:38.992 26
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 +3.829s 18
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 53 +5.212s 15
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 53 +14.210s 12
5 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing Honda 53 +38.348s 10
6 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 53 +45.889s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 53 +48.728s 6
8 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 53 +57.749s 4
9 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 53 +58.779s 2
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 53 +59.841s 1
11 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 53 +60.821s 0
12 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 53 +62.496s 0
13 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 53 +68.910s 0
14 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 53 +70.076s 0
15 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 53 +73.346s 0
NC 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 28 DNF 0
NC 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 27 DNF 0
NC 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 26 DNF 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 24 DNF 0
NC 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 0 DNF 0

Note – Magnussen received a 5-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

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