The Sochi Russian F1 race was set up for a Mercedes win, what with the pace the silver cars have been showing over the past few races. But it was left to Valtteri Bottas to allow championship leader ahead to give him the much needed point boost in his attempt to stave off Sebastian Vettel.

Bottas had picked up a much deserved pole with Hamilton sharing the front row, ahead of the pair of Ferraris. To add to the melee, the two Red Bulls looked in fine fettle for the race, with Verstappen managing to leverage his 19th position to fifth spot in only eight laps. He had started off with a bunch of penalties and seemed ready to redeem himself.

Meanwhile Gasly and Brendon Hartley both managed to spin their Toro Rosso cars, with the team putting it down to mechanical failures that caused their retirements so early.

Other than Verstappen’s lone charge, the race had settled into a pattern, when Bottas came in for his ultrasoft tyres, followed by Vettel on the next lap. Then came the strategy error that saw Hamilton brought in on the following lap, with a mistime that allowed Vettel to pip Hamilton at the end of the pitlane exit. This put Hamilton behind Vettel at a crucial point, just short of the midway mark, with Bottas up ahead. Hamilton then tried getting past the Ferrari, with Vettel shutting the door on him at first, leading to an investigation that deemed it a race incident.

Once Hamilton got ahead, it looked like the race would focus on the other teams with a battle royale going on between Force India, Haas (in the form of Magnussen), Renault (Hulkenberg) and Charles Leclerc in the Sauber.

Then came the two team order moves – Mercedes got Valtteri Bottas to move aside for Hamilton so that he could move up on Verstappen who hadn’t pitted till then. Then Ocon moved to let Perez ahead to allow him to charge Magnussen.

However, the Force India move was temporary as the pair swapped again after the unsuccessful attempt.

So Hamilton came in first, with Bottas in second and Vettel taking third. For a change it looked like no one on the podium was really happy.

Lewis Hamilton Valtteri Bottas

Hamilton tried to put his feelings in words, “Valtteri was an incredible gentleman today. Honestly, it’s the strangest day I can remember having in the sport in my career. I remember, we have crossed this situation and discussion before. It’s always felt super uncomfortable, I was like ‘Look, I want to win the right way’, that’s always how it is for me. I would say ‘Look, as racing drivers we exist to win, and if you tell us we can’t win, it’s like you are taking our air away, our life away’. It’s that deep. I would never wish it upon anyone else and would never ask for it, ever. I made sure when we were in a meeting before, I was like ‘Just so you know, I’ve never gone to Toto and those guys, this is not how I want to win’. Obviously, the team took the decision when they saw that my tyres were blistered and Vettel was charging from behind. There are stronger heads in the team who are like ‘We have to win, it’s all about the win. We have got to win both Championships, we don’t care who finishes ahead’. I think ultimately, it’s really important right this second to first acknowledge Valtteri, because as I said he was just the ultimate gentleman.”

Bottas added, “It’s been a tough day. We got a good result for us as a team with maximum points, but for me personally it was a difficult race. Although I already understand the situation. If you put yourself in the team leader’s shoes, for them it doesn’t matter if it is me or Lewis winning, as long as we are 1-2 we get the maximum points. For the end of the year, it’s only Lewis fighting for the Championship, I am not. So, for the team, it is always better that Lewis wins – that’s how it goes. “

2018 Formula 1 Drivers

Car NoNameTeam2018 season2017 season
44Lewis HamiltonMercedes358363
5Sebastian VettelFerrari294317
7Kimi RäikkönenFerrari236205
77Valtteri BottasMercedes227305
33Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing216168
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing146200
27Nico HulkenbergRenault6943
11Sergio PerezForce India57100
20Kevin MagnussenHaas5319
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren5017
31Esteban OconForce India4987
55Carlos SainzRenault4554
8Romain GrosjeanHaas3128
10Pierre GaslyToro Rosso290
16Charles LeclercSauber27 
2Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1213
9Marcus EricssonSauber90
18Lance StrollWilliams640
28Brendan HartleyToro Rosso40
35Sergey SirotkinWilliams1 

2018 Formula 1 Teams

Team2018 season2017 season
Red Bull Racing362368
Haas Ferrari8447
McLaren Renault6230
Force India Mercedes47187
Sauber Ferrari365
Toro Rosso Honda3353
Williams Mercedes783
2018 Formula 1 Teams

2018 Formula 1 Races

Mexico28/10/2018Max VerstappenSebastian Vettel  Kimi Raikkonen
United States21/10/2018Kimi RaikkonenMax VerstappenLewis Hamilton
Japan07/10/2018Lewis HamiltonValtteri Bottas Max Verstappen
Russia20/09/2018Lewis HamiltonValtteri Bottas Sebastian Vettel 
Singapore16/09/2018Lewis HamiltonMax VerstappenSebastian Vettel
Italy02/09/2018Lewis HamiltonKimi RaikkonenValtteri Bottas
Belgium26/08/2018Sebastian VettelLewis HamiltonMax Verstappen
Hungary29/07/2018Lewis HamiltonSebastian VettelKimi Raikkonen
Germany22/07/2018Lewis HamiltonValtteri BottasKimi Raikkonen
Britain08/07/2018Sebastian VettelLewis HamiltonKimi Raikkonen
Austria01/07/2018Max VerstappenKimi RaikkonenSebastian Vettel
France24/06/2018Lewis HamiltonMax VerstappenKimi Raikkonen
Canada10/06/2018Sebastian VettelValtteri BottasMax Verstappen
Monaco27/05/2018Daniel RicciardoSebastian VettelLewis Hamilton
Spain13/05/2018Lewis HamiltonValtteri BottasMax Verstappen
Azerbaijan29/04/2018Lewis HamiltonKimi RaikkonenSergio Perez
China15/04/2018Daniel RicciardoValtteri BottasKimi Raikkonen
Bahrain04/04/2018Sebastian VettelValtteri BottasLewis Hamilton
Australia25/03/2018Sebastian VettelLewis HamiltonKimi Raikkonen
Abu Dhabi25/11/2018   

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