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Mercedes takes 1-2 victory in Russia

Lewis Hamilton crosses the line underneath the checkered flag. Photo courtesy of Reddit.

David Milam
Staff Writer

Mercedes came out on top with a stunning 1-2 finish in Russia, ending Ferrari’s three race win streak. This victory was made possible by what was a disastrous race for Ferrari, Charles Leclerc snatched pole position for the fourth race in a row on Saturday but was overtaken at the beginning of the race by teammate Sebastian Vettel.

This was a deliberate move by Ferrari to secure a 1-2 lead at the beginning of the race which played off nicely as both Ferraris led the race for the first 22 laps of the race.

Ferrari brought Leclerc in for their first pitstop of the race at lap 22, and then brought Vettel in for his pitstop at lap 28, having the two Mercedes take the lead of the race with the Ferraris coming in 3-4.

This is where their plan started to fall apart. Immediately after exiting the pits, Vettel experienced a failure in his car’s MGU-K and was forced to retire from the race. This in turn caused a Virtual Safety Car, giving Mercedes the perfect opportunity to pit their drivers undoing the undercut by Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton remained in first, with Leclerc slotting into 2nd behind him and Valterri Bottas coming in third. Soon after, a Safety Car was deployed when Williams Driver George Russell suffered a brake failure and careened into a barrier.

Ferrari took the opportunity to bring in Leclerc for another pit stop, switching him to soft tires in an attempt to give him an advantage on the two Mercedes drivers.

Mercedes played an excellent defense as Bottas moved into second place during Leclerc’s pitstop and was able to defend Leclerc from overtaking him and giving Hamilton the opportunity to run away with the win.

In the midfield battle it was an excellent day for McLaren, with Carlos Sainz qualifying in 6th and launching his way into 4th at the beginning of the race, giving him a huge advantage over the rest of the midfield and enabled him to finish in a fantastic 6th place.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez continued his streak of good finishes with an excellent 7th place finish and McLaren driver Lando Norris rounded out the leader’s of the midfield with an 8th place finish.

The fantastic performance from McLaren extended their midfield lead in the Constructors Championship with 101 points in fourth place and their first time having over 100 points since 2014.

Other notable performances include Red Bull Racing driver Alex Albon, after crashing in the beginning of qualifying on Saturday, he was forced to start the race from the pit lane.

Despite this disadvantage Albon had a crazy race. He quickly cut through the midfield and managed to finish all the way in 5th place, mirroring a similar performance from the pit lane following his crash in FP3 of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Formula 1 now heads to Suzuka, Japan for the Japaneese Grand Prix from October 11th to the 13th. Mercedes has extended their strong lead over the Constructors Championship and Lewis Hamilton remains in 1st for the Drivers Championship.

Ferrari will be hungry to make a strong performance to make up for this weekends failure. But both Mercedes and Ferrari will be facing strong competition from Red Bull Racing who view this as a home race for their engine supplier Honda. Red Bull has already announced they will be using a new fuel and upgrading their car to hopefully secure a victory for the home crowd. 

The stakes are high as all attention shifts to Suzuka and the race is shaping up to be a great one with the top three teams all having something to prove and are all clamoring for a victory in Japan.