Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas achieved an unexpected double victory for Mercedes at the 2019 Russian Grand Prix after Ferrari controlled the first phase of the race, but their hopes of winning were dashed after the resignation of Sebastian Vettel who allowed Mercedes to change tires during of a virtual security car and return in front of Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari held the top two seats after the first tire changes during which the announced seat change between Leclerc and Vettel took place, but when Vettel returned to the track behind Leclerc he soon ran into problems with the MGU-K and had to park his SF90 next to the track which is It gave Mercedes a chance to make a tire change and put Hamilton back in the lead.
Ferrari then held second place with Leclerc on medium tires, unlike Hamilton and Bottas on soft, so Ferrari decided to use the safety car that came out due to the Russell incident and put Leclerc on soft tires to have a better chance of attack though it meant the loss of second place from Bottas.
Leclerc pressed Bottas
Leclerc pressed Bottas until the end of the race, but without a real opportunity to attack as Hamilton rushed to the lead, set the fastest lap of the race and achieved his first victory after the Hungarian GP for one step closer to the sixth championship title.
Leclerc finished third for Ferrari, his fourth consecutive podium, but Mercedes managed to stop Ferrari’s streak of three consecutive wins and maintain a perfect performance in Russia where they won all six races held.
Vettel got off to a great start and soon leveled with Hamilton, and with the help of Leclerc's lee he gained great speed and overtook his teammate from the inside of the second turn without Leclerc even trying to defend himself.
It soon became clear that this was part of an internal agreement within Ferrari that Leclerc would give Vettel a lee on the road to the second turn, and Vettel, if he takes the lead, would return the position to Leclerc.
Vettel refused to return the position to Leclerc on the grounds that he would have overtaken him to the second turn anyway and that he was fast enough that a change of position was not necessary, but Ferrari made a ‘Plan C’ to get Leclerc back in the lead with an earlier entry into boxing.
The race was under a safety car already in the first lap due to the collision between Grosjean, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi, and Grosjean gave up already in the first lap after finishing in the barriers in the mentioned collision.
Leclerc was the first to enter boxing, four laps earlier than Vettel, and used the new medium tires to get back in front of a teammate who entered boxing in the 22nd lap. But soon after, Vettel gave up due to a malfunction on the MGU-K and allowed Mercedes to change the tires under the conditions of a virtual safety car.
Although Ferrari tried to give Leclerc a better chance to attack victory by switching to soft tires, Hamilton had no problems reaching his ninth win of the season and 82nd of his career, driving the fastest lap of the race in lap 51, four tenths faster than Leclerc.