Lewis Hamilton took a position dole offered by his Team with both hands open at the 2018 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, a move that was pivotal in him finishing at the apex position in the Russian GP. The move where Mercedes told both drivers to switch positions mid-race, allowed the silver arrow pilot a huge step towards his fifth Formula 1 drivers’ championship victory. Hamilton was on the recovery having lost his place to Championship rival Sebastian Vettel in the pit stops. Hamilton soon managed to pull clear of Vettel's Ferrari, before team-mate Valtteri Bottas waved him past allowing him the lead position in the pack.
This move will be pivotal in Hamilton's march to a fifth victory in six races thus far, pulling 50 points clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the 2018 Drivers’ Championship. This means that second-place finishes in all remaining 5 races of this years’ Formula One Season would in effect be enough to give Hamilton a fifth world title.
At race start, however, it was Vettel who jumped off the line quicker than Hamilton, allowing him to pull up alongside the silver arrows on the run in turn 2, a Hamilton quickly took a place in the race leader Bottas’ slipstream. Allowing him to keep his place ahead of Ferrari’s Vettel. The Silver Arrows then held off the Rosso brigade through the opening stint. However, a well-planned pit strategy allowed Vettel to come back into contention in this crucial race. Bottas’ took his pit at the end of lap 12, changing to the soft option tyres, with Ferrari’s Vettel pulling in for the same one lap later. Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton out until the end of Lap 14, but this was a bungle that resulted in the Brit running into traffic, allowing Vettel to get the jump on the track. Hamilton’s next move to advance on the Ferrari on turn 2 after he exited the pit, was denied after Vettel pulled aggressive defensive move under braking to stay ahead. Hamilton vented his frustration over the team radio, but managed to get the pass completed two corners later, diving down the inside at Turn 4.
Once again the two Silver Arrows pulled away but were soon thwarted by the roving Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The Red Bull pilot had charged from 19th on the grid to the lead of the race, running on the soft tyres, Verstappen was planning a long stint before pitting, bunching up the cars behind. Fearing that Vettel would use this bungle to get ahead of Hamilton, who was reporting blistering on his rear-left tyre. The team demanded that Bottas concede his position to his team-mate on lap 25. Hamilton then stuck behind Verstappen until he had to pull in for a pit stop snatching the lead from the 21-year old.
At the end of the 53 laps, Hamilton crossed the line to take his third Russian Grand Prix victory and allowing Mercedes’ perfect streak in the race and racking up its third one-two finish of the season. Close on his heels was Valtteri Bottas who took second place ahead of the Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen took fourth place ahead of Max Verstappen, who showed extreme signs of maturity to take 5th place. Daniel Ricciardo was unable to recreate his teammate’s pace and finished the race in 6th place, ahead of Charles LeClerc.
Image Source: Crash.net