Hamilton wins in Russia to end Ferrari's run of success

Hamilton's closest rival and team mate Valtteri Bottas took second place, with Hamilton also banking an extra point for the fastest lap.

The victory was the 82nd of Hamilton's career and ninth of the season.   -  AFP

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix in a Mercedes one-two on Sunday to end resurgent Ferrari's run of success and stretch his lead to 73 points with five races remaining.

Hamilton's closest rival and team mate Valtteri Bottas took second place, with Hamilton also banking an extra point for the fastest lap.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc finished third after an early team orders controversy with Sebastian Vettel, whose retirement on the 28th of 53 laps brought out a safety car that cemented Hamilton's lead.

Ferrari had won the previous three races but Mercedes retained its unbeaten record in Russia dating back to the first race in Sochi in 2014. The victory was the 82nd of Hamilton's career and ninth of the season.

Incredible job

“That's exactly what we needed,” exclaimed a delighted Hamilton on team radio following a flawless strategic performance by Mercedes.

“It was an incredible job by all the team - not giving up. Keeping up with Ferrari was a hard task, but we kept pushing.”

Bottas said his second was a credit to the team's belief.

“Starting fourth and finishing second is not bad, is it?” he said. “So, it's not so bad...”

Leclerc remained poised, despite his disappointment.

“At least we are consistent,” he said.

“It's a shame for the team not to have both of us up here... I will always trust the team, but our tactic was for me to give the slipstream, which I did - and then, well I need to speak to the team about that.”

MERCEDES MAINTAIN SOCHI SUCCESS

The recent weeks have been tough for the Silver Arrows, but there is no doubting their dominance in Russia. They have won all six editions of the Sochi grand prix, with Hamilton claiming an outstanding four victories, having maintained a fine race pace to profit on the gifts that came his way.

RENAULT'S RICCIARDO ROCKED AGAIN

A fourth-placed finish for Ricciardo at Monza unfortunately does not appear to have been a sign of things to come. He was heavily involved in a number of flashpoints in Singapore but could only finish 14th, and the Australian was another to retire this weekend. A puncture suffered in the early clash with Grosjean proved his undoing.

With inputs from OPTA and AFP