Vettel retires, Hamilton wins Russian Grand Prix in Mercedes one-two!

29-09-2019 13:47 | Updated: 29-09-2019 13:50
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
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Vettel retires, Hamilton wins Russian Grand Prix in Mercedes one-two!

After a dramatic mechanical retirement for Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton has won the Russian Grand Prix in a Mercedes one-two, with the Virtual Safety Car caused by Vettel giving Mercedes the time to pit and stay ahead of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

Vettel had a brilliant start and took the lead heading into the first pit window, when Ferrari opted to switch the German around with Leclerc. However, Vettel's SF90 broke down almost immediately after the stop, ending a promising race for the 31-year-old.

Mercedes kept their unbeaten streak in Russia going, with Hamilton leading Valtteri Bottas like they did last year as the Silver Arrows perhaps dealt the killer blow in both championships with just five races to go.

Leclerc completed the podium, with his attempts to overtake Bottas for P2 futile as the two Red Bulls finished in P4 and P5, while five cars retired in total throughout the 53 laps at the Sochi Autodrom.

How it happened

As the lights went out in Sochi, it was Vettel who had an amazing start. The four-time champion immediately got past Hamilton, and then used the slipstream off Leclerc's Ferrari to get past him on the way to turn one. 

Vettel pulled away immediately, causing Leclerc annoyance, with the 21-year-old getting on the team radio and letting Ferrari know this wasn't the plan. The team eventually got back to him and told Vettel to let his teammate past, which he refused to do as the gap was over three seconds at that point.

Meanwhile, further back, there was a Safety Car caused on the first lap, with a three-way collision taking place between Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi and Daniel Ricciardo. They went three-wide where there wasn't room to do so, leaving all drivers without room and launching Grosjean into the barriers. Giovinazzi also tagged Ricciardo, giving the Aussie a puncture and severe damage. He pitted but eventually retired as well.

Opportunistic Mercedes

Leclerc went to pit first as Ferrari hung Vettel out to dry a bit longer, successfully performing the switch between both drivers that way. However, when Vettel came out of the pit behind his teammate, he immediately reported MGU-K problems as he started to drop off quickly. Then, drama as he had to bring his SF90 to a complete halt, ending his race. A combative, fiery performance from Vettel that eventually gave him Driver of the Day, but nothing to show for it.

The Virtual Safety Car that came with Vettel's retirement gave Mercedes the perfect opportunity to pit. Hamilton and Bottas both came in under the VSC and emerged ahead of Leclerc, suddenly leaving Mercedes with a one-two.

Another Safety Car came out shortly after as George Russell binned his Williams as he seemingly had some braking issue. Leclerc came in and got back right behind Bottas by the end of the Safety Car. 

When the race restarted, the Monegasque gave it everything to get past Bottas, but the Finn defended very well to keep the Ferrari in his rearview mirrors. Leclerc tried to go for the fastest lap at the end but couldn't manage, with Hamilton taking that extra point as well.

Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon finished in fourth and fifth, with Carlos Sainz and Sergio Pérez leading the midfield.

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