F1: Hamilton Wins Russian GP As Mercedes Orders Bottas To Move Aside

The Mercedes team ordered Valtteri Bottas to allow Lewis Hamilton to pass in a bid to avoid competition against Sebastian Vettel.

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took a flawless win in the 2018 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, extending his lead for the championship title. The Briton started second on the grid and managed won the race ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas by a margin of 2.545s. Hamilton's victory though comes amidst Mercedes' team orders asking Bottas to move aside. The latter started on pole and was running for the race lead behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen when the Bottas was asked to let Hamilton as the Briton had Sebastian Vettel on his tail.

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(Hamilton passed Bottas on Lap 25 after the team asked the latter to move aside)

With Hamilton adding another to his name this season, the Mercedes driver now leads the championship with a comfortable 50 points over Vettel. The Ferrari driver finished third after being unable to pass Bottas for P2, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant fourth ahead of Max Verstappen.

It was a front row lock for Mercedes at Sochi after Bottas and Hamilton led qualifying. The Fin driver started pole and defended his lead through the opening lap. Vettel had a good start and even passed Hamilton for second but the driver managed to retake the position in Bottas' slipstream. While Vettel did attack Hamilton over the next few laps, the latter defended his position.

Bottas was the first of the race leaders to pit on Lap 12 followed by Vettel a lap later. Mercedes kept Hamilton out for another lap and took the lead as Bottas and Vettel joined back at P2 and P3 respectively. Mercedes asked Bottas to slow down to reduce Vettel's pace but the latter was quick to pass the second W09 and later Hamilton's too. Hamilton though retaliated and passed Vettel once again at Turn 2 as the race was reaching the half-point.

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(Bottas finished second behind Hamilton, fending competition from Vettel)

Meanwhile, Verstappen stepped up to the lead ahead of Bottas, Hamilton and Vettel. On Lap 25, Mercedes asked Bottas to let Hamilton through at Turn 13. Hamilton did not immediately start attacking Verstappen for the lead, a decision Bottas wasn't too happy with; but Mercedes conveyed to him that it needed to be done to secure Hamilton's position.

Verstappen who started 19th on the grid, looked at his dominant best, rising up to fifth in just seven laps. A podium finish looked in sight for the Red Bull racer as Hamilton was closing in. The Mercedes cars pitted on Lap 42 while Verstappen followed suit a lap later. The Red Bull joined back fourth behind Vettel while the W09s were back in 1-2.

Creating a healthy margin over Vettel, Bottas indicated to the team if they would let him back ahead but was told they would maintain position. Hamilton continued to lead until the chequered flag followed by Bottas and Vettel on the podium. The last stages saw Verstappen lost pace and finished fifth below Raikkonen, and was joined by teammate Daniel Ricciardo who took P6.

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(Despite starting 19th, Verstappen finished 5th followed by Ricciardo at P6)

Freshly inducted into Ferrari for 2019, Charles Leclerc finished an impressive seventh after as high as fifth in the race. The last three spots on the top 10 lists were taken by Kevin Magnussen for Haas, while Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez took the last set of points for Racing Point Force India.

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The Russian GP saw two retirements including both Torro Rosso cars of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley. Both drivers were involved in spins independent from each other early in the race and retired the cars back in the pits.

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