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Sunday images from the 2018 Russian Grand Prix

F1: Teamwork in Sochi

Oct 012018

Formula One is regarded as one of the greatest examples of a team sport. Whether it’s the team principal, staff at the factory, pitstop crew or the driver in the hot seat. It is about pulling together for the good of the team to achieve their primary objective. In F1, that's the Constructors' and Drivers' Championship and that aspect was perfectly illustrated at the 2018 Russian Grand Prix.

With the Grand Prix being comfortably led by Valtteri Bottas from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team, he was asked mid-race to pull aside to allow his Silver Arrows teammate, Lewis Hamilton through, and into the lead. The reason? Mercedes needed to cover off the threat of Lewis's rival in the F1 title race, Sebastian Vettel, and with one eye on his blistering rear tyres, decided to make the switch, to Valtteri's cost.

Team orders are common in F1, yet not always popular, particularly for Valtteri who was looking to win his first race of the year. Lewis was quick to praise Valtteri as a "gentleman" and in turn his 70th victory in F1 was met with mooted celebrations. Lewis' victory in Sochi means he now has a 50-point lead over Vettel going into the final five races in 2018. It offers Lewis a comfortable buffer ahead of this weekend’s coming race at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Lewis said: "Honestly, it's very, very hard to find the right words. It's very strange feeling. We've had a 1-2, we've dominated as a team this weekend, the team has done an incredible job and it's obviously never, ever in my whole life been the way I've wanted to win a race. I just want to shine it on to Valtteri. There are not many team-mates who would do something like that.


"Valtteri was an incredible gentleman. 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. Obviously, the team took the decision when they saw that my tyres were blistered and Vettel was charging from behind. There are stronger heads in the team who are like 'We have to win, it's all about the win. We have got to win both Championships, we don't care who finishes ahead'.


"Ultimately, it's really important to first acknowledge Valtteri, because he was just the ultimate gentleman. It is very weird to feel down but we've also got to feel grateful to the guys back at the factory. So many people are working flat-out to make sure we have a 1-2 like this, the team have just done an incredible job this weekend. We have to really embrace the moment still, but it's definitely a victory on my list of wins that I am least proud of.”

Valtteri, who had started on pole, got off to an excellent start and was leading the race when the strategy call was made on lap 26. He duly obliged and will immediately turn his focus to the race in Suzuka this weekend as he tries to bounce-back from the disappointment. Valtteri admits that even though he was now crowned the Russian GP winner for the season year running, he knows deep down that he would have won the race.


Valtteri added: "It's been a tough day. We got a good result for us as a team with maximum points, but for me personally it was a difficult race. If you put yourself in the team leader's shoes, for them it doesn't matter if it is me or Lewis winning, as long as we are 1-2 we get the maximum points.


"For the end of the year, it's only Lewis fighting for the championship, I am not. So, for the team, it is always better that Lewis wins - that's how it goes. It is not ideal for me as an athlete and a person, but that is a fact.


"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. I know that today I was supposed to win and I could've won the race on equal terms. I know myself I am the winner of this weekend. I don't have the trophy but it doesn't matter.”

2018 Driver Standings

1 - Lewis Hamilton GBR - MERCEDES - 306
2 - Sebastian Vettel GER - FERRARI - 256
3 - Valtteri Bottas FIN - MERCEDES - 189
4 - Kimi Räikkönen FIN - FERRARI - 186
5 - Max Verstappen NED - RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER - 158