Mercedes-AMG Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton extended his lead even further over Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as the two battle it out for the 2018 Formula One World Championship title, watching his points advantage grow to 50 after a win at the F1 Russian Grand Prix. Vettel crossed the line in third, making it to the podium, but securing ten fewer points for his efforts than Hamilton. Between the two drivers was Hamilton’s Finnish teammate, polesitter Valtteri Bottas.
Sebastian Vettel was in great form all race, managing an aggressive start that nearly allowed him to squeeze past his title rival on the first lap, and staying in hot pursuit of Hamilton over the next dozen laps. Then, on Lap 14, the German driver pitted for new tires, the Ferrari pit crew performing the work in an impressive 2.8 seconds. Hamilton pitted on the following lap, and despite the Mercedes crew’s even-quicker 2.5-second turnaround, Vettel managed to squeeze past as the Mercedes driver was coming out of the pits.
Unfortunately, Ferrari’s joy would be short-lived, as Lewis Hamilton passed Sebastian Vettel again on the very next lap. Still, Vettel kept the pressure on, not letting Hamilton out of his sights for the next nine laps when, at last, Mercedes-AMG asked Valtteri Bottas to step aside and let Hamilton past, creating a buffer between the championship leader and the charging Ferrari driver. The order of Hamilton-Bottas-Vettel then held until the end of the race, with Vettel’s Scuderia Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen just missing the podium in fourth.
Despite being denied his chance to try and pass Hamilton again for the lead, Sebastian Vettel defended Mercedes’ actions after the race, saying: “I think in the position they were in it was a no-brainer what they did today so maybe not all the questions are justified,” he told reporters. “For us, obviously we tried our maximum. I think there was a slim chance to finish ahead of Lewis.”