Lewis Hamilton claimed his 82nd Grand Prix win with victory in the Russia GP Sunday after Ferrari’s challenge imploded amid a row over team orders. Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in Sochi to increase his title lead over teammate Valterri Bottas to 73 points with 130 points remaining, a sixth world championship crown firmly in his grasp. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished third, unable to capitalize on his fourth straight pole position and his team’s apparent dominance.
“What an effort, guys,” said a jubilant Hamilton on the radio after taking the checkered flag for the ninth time this season. “What an incredible job. That is exactly what we needed. We never give up.” It looked an unlikely victory after the British star had been relegated to third place from the start with Sebastian Vettel charging through on the slipstream to take the lead from teammate Leclerc. It became clear that pre-race team orders had been agreed that if Vettel benefited in such a way he would move over to concede the lead to Leclerc. But four-time champion Vettel was not playing ball and continued at the front, both pulling clear of Hamilton, who was on the slower medium tire. Under pressure to make way, Vettel responded: “I would have got him (Leclerc) anyway.”
“It’s good to be back on the podium. It’s a shame not to have the second car here too,” he said.