Undoubtedly Ferrari was clearly the favourite team for the Russian Grand Prix. Following the free practices session and the outstanding qualifying lap by Charles Leclerc, the Maranello’s duo led the first part of the race, paving the way for the second 1-2, following Singapore.
Instead, Vettel’s engine failure prevented Ferrari from replicating the result and the safety car entry, allowed Mercedes to maximise its strategy.
Toto Wolff, interviewed after the race, reckoned that Mercedes deliberately decided to start with the Medium compound as to have more flexibility in extending the first stint. Particularly, the Mercedes boss, admitted that Mercedes took into account for the possibility of changing the tyres under a Safety Car regime following the Ferrari’s pit.
“Today is one of those races that go to show the points are won on Sunday and not on Saturday – and that, most of all, you can never give up.
“We managed to take a one-two finish today even though we didn’t have the quickest package and that is a very special feeling.
“We started on the Medium tyre and one of the reasons we did that was to have the flexibility to stretch the opening stint – both to take advantage of a possible Safety Car after Ferrari had pitted, but also to have the option of using the Soft in the final stint.
“So we were running it long, hanging it out there a bit and then the race came right towards us with the VSC for Vettel’s failure,” said Wolff.
Wolff continued praising his drivers, underlining how Lewis Hamilton was outstanding in putting pressure on the two SF90s, while Bottas made a great defence against Charles Leclerc in the second stint.
“Both of our drivers did a fantastic job today: Lewis was relentless, keeping the pressure on and holding onto the Ferraris in the opening stint, then able to manage things well after the stop.
“As for Valtteri, we saw two years ago that he knows his way around this track with a Ferrari breathing down his neck, and he didn’t put a foot wrong this afternoon even with huge pressure from Leclerc.
Wolff concluded, reckoning that Mercedes did not have the best package in Russia, and added that the package needs to be improved for the following race in Suzuka.
“But even in the joy of this win, we must not lose sight of the fact that we didn’t have the best package here this weekend.
“We have some updates to come in Suzuka, but most of all we need to put our heads together over the coming days and understand how to maximise our package in Japan, so that we extract every bit of potential from it and come back stronger."