Last Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix was a slightly controversial affair in the sense that although Lewis Hamilton won the race, but it was arguably his teammate Valtteri Bottas who deserved to.
Grand Prix’s have always been known for the best driver on the day being the one to triumph, except when things go wrong late on in races, but the situation in Sochi asked a whole new question of the sport.
There’s no denying that Lewis Hamilton is the number one driver at Mercedes and that the team are determined to do everything they can in order to help him secure the title this season ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel, but has this come at a cost for Bottas, who was instructed to let Hamilton through to go and win the Russian Grand Prix? Yes, Hamilton now has a 50-point advantage over Vettel, but it could have been Bottas’ first win in 2018.
Bottas had done brilliantly to secure pole in qualifying, he’d got off to a flying start in the race and held his lead through a pit stop too. In many ways, you could say all of his hard work had been for nothing, as he was forced to let Hamilton profit from his endeavours, but it was the obvious thing to do in the eyes of many. While people see Formula 1 as a sport for individuals, as it is indeed individuals who battle it out for honours, it’s a team game, where drivers and constructors work in unison for the greater good.
There were a lot of people who were against the actions Mercedes took to secure victory for Hamilton in Sochi, but it was important for them to do so in terms of the title race. If Hamilton had finished second to Bottas, his lead over closest rival Vettel would have been 43 points, rather than the 50 points it currently stands at. With a victory in an F1 race being worth a total of 25 points, the German could have cut Hamilton’s lead to shreds in a matter of two races, but he can’t do the same to a 50-point lead.
So, Bottas was indeed right to follow orders in the Russian Grand Prix from his team, even though it cost him his first victory of 2018. Looking ahead to the Japanese Grand Prix, it’s Lewis Hamilton who has managed to secure pole, with Bottas second on the grid ahead of Max Verstappen in third. It’s the ideal opportunity for Hamilton to further strengthen his position at the top of the standings, with Bottas there to lend a hand if required.
Disaster struck for Ferrari though as both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen ran off track. This has left the German back in eighth on the grid, with a lot of ground to make up if he’s to make a success of the race. His title hopes look to be fading, and fast, with only a handful of races left this season.