Lewis Hamilton turned the tide on championship rival Sebastian Vettel by scoring his third successive victory today after Mercedes ordered Valtteri Bottas to move aside. Hamilton now leads the championship by 50 points.
Lewis Hamilton has been on a roll after this year’s summer break. His team has been working hard to improve the car and made the most out of Ferrari’s tactical blunders. Mercedes locked the front row in Saturday’s Qualifying with Bottas. Sebastian would start the race from third.
Come race day and an exciting start for the title contenders: Bottas held his lead at the start of the race whilst Vettel’s launch put him side-by-side with Lewis Hamilton. The defending champion made use of Bottas’s slipstream and got away from the Ferrari. Sebastian got another chance to attack Lewis after the latter locked up slightly under braking for Turn 2: Vettel tried to attack through the ensuing long left-hander, but Hamilton held the place.
Bottas maintained the lead until pitting on lap 12, with Vettel stopping on the next lap and Hamilton staying out a lap longer. This time it was Mercedes who made an error pitting a lap later than what would have been the optimum time. The team then had to ask Bottas to slow down and back Vettel up to prevent him from undercutting and stealing P2. It didn’t work and Hamilton found himself third after his stop.
Hamilton’s response was quick and he was able to find himself in the German’s slipstream two laps after losing his position. He tried to overtake Vettel on the run to Turn 2 but Vettel defended the position and appeared to move to the right twice in the process. Lewis, however, had momentum on his side and wouldn’t give up the position. He charged again and made it stick on the inside of Turn 4.
Valtteri, who was being backed up by the long-running Verstappen, eventually found Hamilton in his rearview mirrors. Lewis followed Bottas for a couple of laps and started to develop a blister on his left-rear tyre. Mercedes ordered Bottas to move aside and let Hamilton pass on Turn 13 of Lap 25.
Hamilton was now second behind Max who had not pitted yet. He did not attack the Dutch and that frustrated his teammate. Mercedes strategist James Vowles eventually told Bottas over the radio that the team understands his concerns but had to make the team orders decision to secure Hamilton’s position.
Lewis tried to attack Max later in the race but it didn’t work. Red Bull pitted Max a lap later releasing the two Mercedes that eventually finished 1-2.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||31.016|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||1’20.451|
|8||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||Ferrari||1 lap|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||1 lap|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||1 lap|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Haas||Ferrari||1 lap|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||Renault||1 lap|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||Ferrari||1 lap|
|14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||Renault||1 lap|
|15||Lance Stroll||Williams||Mercedes||1 lap|
|16||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||Renault||2 laps|
|17||Carlos Sainz||Renault||Renault||2 laps|
|18||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||Mercedes||2 laps|
|Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||Honda||DNF|
|Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||Honda||DNF|
Lewis Hamilton: “Valtteri was an incredible gentleman today. Honestly, it’s the strangest day I can remember having in the sport in my career. I remember, we have crossed this situation and discussion before. It’s always felt super uncomfortable, I was like ‘Look, I want to win the right way’, that’s always how it is for me.”
Valtteri Bottas: “We are playing as a team and I am prepared to play as a team. I took one for the team today, I will take one for the team tomorrow. That’s how it goes, but I am also looking forward to next year, starting a new season.”
Toto Wolff: “We are all racers at heart and what we want to see is out and out racing and may the quickest man win. But then we are a bunch of rational guys – we discuss things in the morning and then everything is different in the race. This is what happened today.”
Sebastian Vettel: “In their defense, all the questions – I know you guys love controversy so, therefore, ask naughty questions to them as individuals, but I think in the position they are it’s a no-brainer what they did today.”