Mercedes implemented team orders that saw Valtteri Bottas yield to Lewis Hamilton on Lap 26 of Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, and Hamilton was subsequently able to take the win and extend his already substantial championship lead over Sebastian Vettel in the process.
Bottas led from the pole, while Hamilton held off Vettel to run second after the start, with Kimi Raikkonen running behind them in fourth.
Their running order remained stable until the pit stops began, with Bottas the first of the leaders to pit on Lap 12. Vettel followed suit on Lap 13, with Hamilton pitting on Lap 14.
Bottas resumed ahead of both of them, but Vettel momentarily got around Hamilton after the round of stops to effectively run second in the race. However, on Lap 16, Hamilton made a bold move inside of Vettel in Turn 7 to retake the spot.
Team orders at Mercedes then came into play a few laps later. Max Verstappen, who started 19th due grid penalties for taking new power unit components, had not stopped at that point and was in the lead. Bottas, Hamilton, and Vettel were all closing in on him, but Bottas was unable to get around Verstappen to retake the lead. As a result, Vettel began closing in on the both of them, and the top four ran nearly nose-to-tail.
Fearing that Vettel would get back around Hamilton, and subsequently gain on him in the championship, Mercedes opted to have Bottas yield the position to Hamilton.
Hamilton assumed the lead on Lap 43 after Verstappen made his stop, and went unchallenged the rest of the way to take his eighth win of the year.
Bottas finished second, with Vettel finishing third ahead of Raikkonen.
Verstappen, meanwhile, enjoyed a strong drive to fifth after starting 19th. Verstappen’s opening laps were particularly breathtaking, as he was already up to 10th by Lap 3 and was running fifth by Lap 8.
Red Bull opted to run him long before his stop – he started on the soft compound Pirellis, which allowed him to run to Lap 43 – to give him a chance to battle with Raikkonen for fourth, but he was unable to mount a challenge in the final laps.
Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth, with Charles Leclerc finishing a strong seventh after running in the points for much of the day.
Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, and Sergio Perez rounded out the points finishers in eighth, ninth, and tenth.
The win sees Hamilton extend his lead over Vettel to 50 points with five races remaining in the 2018 Formula 1 season.
Results are below.