What did we learn from the Russian Grand Prix?

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Russia, Sochi International Street Circuitru

Thanks to a perfectly timed safety car period, the Mercedes AMG Petronas team came out on top of the 2019 Formula One VTB Russian Grand Prix, breaking Ferrari’s recent impressive run of success.

Scuderia Ferrari had started and won the last three races in Belgium, Italy and Singapore, but Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport restored the previous order, finishing in the top two positions at the Russian Grand Prix. However, the Anglo-German squad needed a fair share of luck for their first win after the summer break as Ferrari was controlling the happenings before an engine-related forced the seemingly quickest driver Sebastian Vettel to retire from the race. The subsequent virtual safety car period handed the race victory to Lewis Hamilton.

Unbeatable – With its win on Sunday, Mercedes continues to be unbeaten in Sochi. The Russian Grand Prix appeared first on the calendar in 2014 and the Brackley-based outfit has managed to win every single edition of the race since. Lewis Hamilton has also strengthened his domination in Russia. Of the six races so far, the Briton has snatched the victory on four occasions, the only other race winners have been Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas with a single victory for both drivers.

The vital point – Lewis Hamilton has not only won Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, but the Briton has also secured the additional point for the fastest race lap. The five-time world champion was 0.432 faster than Charles Leclerc who set the second fastest race lap. Interestingly, Alexander Albon’s best race lap was 0.175 faster than his teammate Max Verstappen’s quickest lap time, however, the fact cannot be ignored that the Dutchman finished 24.138 ahead of the Thai-British driver thanks to his consistently impressive lap times during the final stint of the race.

A new record – Next to scoring the extra point for the fastest race lap, Lewis Hamilton also set a new lap record in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix. The Briton’s 1m35.761 was enough to break the previous record by exactly a tenth of a second set by his teammate Valtteri Bottas in the 2018 edition of the event.

Dark clouds – Williams endured a rather negative race weekend in Russia. The FW42 was quite competitive with George Russell behind the wheel, but the race unfolded in an unfortunate manner for the Grove-based squad. Russell was dogged by a mechanical issue after his pit stop which led to a nasty crash while Robert Kubica was asked by the team to retire from the race in order to save his car for the remainder of the season. The Russian Grand Prix was the first double retirement for Williams in 2019. The only other teams with this negative record are Haas and Renault. The French manufacturer’s drivers retired from the German Grand Prix while the Haas team failed to finish the British Grand Prix with both their cars.

Seven of ten – Seven different teams scored points in Russia on Sunday. Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren scored points with both their cars while Ferrari, Racing Point, Haas and Renault collected points with one of their cars. Thanks to Kevin Magnussen’s ninth place, the American outfit Haas finished in the top ten for the first time since the German Grand Prix. For McLaren, it was the fifth Grand Prix this year to score points with both its cars.

The fans favourite – Despite failing to see the chequered flag, Sebastian Vettel was voted the best driver of the day with 21 per cent. The German had a perfect getaway at the start, taking over the lead from his teammate Charles Leclerc, however, a hybrid component failed in his power unit, forcing him to retire from the race. This retirement was his first one since the 2018 German Grand Prix and the third race in 2019 when he failed to score championship points.

A question of when – With his first win since the Hungarian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship. The Briton is now leading the way 73 points clear of his teammate Valtteri Bottas. Charles Leclerc stabilized his third place in the Standings, but with Max Verstappen only three points behind, the battle is very much on for the third position in the Drivers’ Championship.

In control - In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes lies ahead of its arch-rival Ferrari by 163 points. With a deficit of 97 points to Ferrari, Red Bull will slowly need to give up its hopes of fighting for the second place. With a double finish in the top ten, McLaren’s fourth place in the Standings seems to be very much secure. With five more races in 2019, the battle for the fifth place is still on between Renault, Toro Rosso and Racing Point.