Briton Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix, the 16th round of the F1 World Championship, after Mercedes asked his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas to allow him to reach first place, an authorized maneuver.
German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), who is already 50 points behind Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, accompanied the two Mercedes on the podium.
Bottas, who started from pole ahead of his leader, pulled away on lap 25 after receiving team orders over the radio. “Lewis was in danger from Vettel,” they explained.
The Finn asked to regain his privileged position on the last lap, but Mercedes chose to prioritize Hamilton’s victory.
Mercedes had already warned that it could give directions to its drivers in case the title was at stake.
Hamilton and Vettel had had a nice battle for second place shortly before.
Called to the pits to change tires on lap 15, the Briton returned to the track behind his German rival, who had changed tires a lap earlier.
A hurt Hamilton went on the attack and managed to overtake the quadruple German world champion.
Finn Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari), Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Australian Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) completed a Top-6 made up of the three most powerful teams.
The two Red Bulls rallied from 19th and 18th on the starting grid, to which they were relegated for changing engines and gearboxes beyond the permitted limit.
Verstappen, who celebrated his 21st birthday this Sunday, was especially brilliant. In one lap he had already climbed to 13th place and was in the top-6 on lap six, even leading the race for 20 laps.
Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Sauber), Danish Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Force India) and Mexican Sergio Pérez (Force India) completed the Top-10. AFP