Lewis Hamilton managed to get himself back on winning ways in Russia, as the Sochi-based race remains a Mercedes domain. The Briton inherited the win following a fortunate combination of events throughout the race, with Vettel’s MGU-K failure on top of them. Leclerc’s second pit stop call then ruled the Monegasque out of contention for 2nd place, which allowed Mercedes to score a 1-2 with ease.
The five-time champion hailed Ferrari’s pace in the opening stages of the race, following yesterday’s dominant display by the Italian-based team with Leclerc in qualifying.
“This win feels like it has been a long time coming and it was just an incredible job from the whole team: never giving up, pushing forward, always trying to be innovative. -he said- It's incredibly inspiring to be part of that and amazing to have this result today considering how quick the Ferraris were in that opening stint. It was a really hard task to keep up with them, especially on the offset tyre, but we kept pushing and the car felt really good today.”
Hamilton also revealed that he expected Ferrari’s tyres to drop off in the opening stint, whereas he was the one struggling: “We thought that their soft tyres would drop off during that opening stint, but they had such good pace that I was struggling to keep up with them - and that's probably a little warning for us, because it looked like they got their calculations right in that regard. I managed to stay within shooting distance, though, and started closing down the gap as their tyres started to drop. Charles pitted, then I started catching Seb, and we were in a good position to offset and go long - even had the Safety Car not come out, it would have been a really good race.”
The Briton is now 73 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the championship, but he insists that his approach is going to be more step-by-step, in order not to ‘stumble’ metaphorically speaking.
“Then everything fell our way, and after that it was a question of building the gap, saving the tyres but also getting to the finish as smoothly as possible. Looking ahead, of course the races are counting down but we are just trying to take things one race at a time, put one foot in front of the other and not stumble. When you have a battle like this, you're working flat out, turning over every stone and questioning every little thing you can do better. We love that challenge and I'm really excited for the next races.”