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F1: Lewis Hamilton wins Russian GP as Ferrari team orders fail

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Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom Sunday afternoon, further extending his lead in the World Championship standings to 73 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas.

With Bottas finishing second, it was yet another Mercedes 1-2 in a race that could of very well have resulted in a Ferrari 1-2 had everything gone as planned for the duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel took the lead from his starting position of third on lap one, passing Hamilton and polesitter Leclerc in what was part of a pre-race plan by the team to fend off the defending World Champion.

Once Vettel was solidly in the lead, he was told by his team to surrender the lead back to Leclerc. However, Vettel refused to give the position back to his teammate and continued to build his lead, with both Ferrari cars running 1-2 until Leclerc made his first pit stop on Lap 22.

Leclerc came out of the pits in fourth behind his teammate, Lewis Hamilton and Bottas, and four laps later, Vettel finally came into the pits, and returned to the track behind Leclerc.

It had appeared as things were finally coming together for Ferrari, as though Hamilton and Bottas were sitting in first and second, they both had yet to pit.

But Vettel’s car then experienced an engine failure on his out lap, ending his day and bringing out the virtual safety car, which allowed Hamilton to come in for a free stop and maintain the lead.

Bottas surrendered the second position to Leclerc when he came in to pit, but was able to retake the position when Leclerc returned to the pits a few laps later when a full safety car came out for a crash by George Russel.

When racing resumed on lap 33, the top four consisted of Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc and Max Verstappen – all of whom maintained their position through the checkered flag.

“It’s incredible to have this result today because of how fast they [Ferrari] were from the start, even keeping up with them was hard,” Hamilton said following his eighth victory of 2019. “It feels like a long time coming!”

Alexander Albon finished fifth, while Carlos Sainz finished the race in the sixth position. Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.

Full race results are below. The next round of the 2019 Formula One World Championship is the Japanese Grand Prix on October 13.

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Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”