The Russian Grand Prix was an exciting race that saw several overtakes and was one of the drives of the season, and quite possibly showed the 2018 title race being settled.
Mercedes continued their dominance of the Russian Grand Prix with a one-two finish as Lewis Hamilton secured victory and was followed by Valtteri Bottas, who finished second. Sebastian Vettel finished third, increasing the gap at the top of the championship race to 50 points.
The race will be remembered for when the 2018 title race could have been decided because of team orders.
With Max Verstappen leading the race, Mercedes made the crucial call of switching the positions of Bottas, who was second at the time, and third-placed Hamilton. After Verstappen stopped for fresh tires, Hamilton became the race leader and went on to win the race.
Verstappen had the race of his life starting from 19th on the grid and finishing 5th. Celebrating his 21st birthday, the young Dutchman made an excellent start and gained six places on the opening lap. By lap eight, Verstappen had already made it into 5th place and was trying to catch the front runners.
Unfortunately for racing fans around the world after Verstappen pit with 10 laps to go for fresher tires than the front runners, Red Bull turned the engine down to save it for future races.
F1 is a team race and there’s money is to be made, but sometimes racing positions should be decided on the track rather than in the paddock. A decision like this will have ramifications throughout the rest of this season and into next.
This could be seen as the beginning of the end for Bottas’s time at Mercedes, as it is the second time team orders have cost him a race victory. The fallout from this decision will also be seen at the next race in Suzuka, Japan.
F1’s prize money has decreased substantially since Liberty Media took ownership in January 2017. Teams share approx. 68% of F1’s underlying profits, but this has been reduced due to an increase in costs, which has put pressure on F1’s bottom line.
Projected prize money for the top teams will be distributed depending on a number of factors, including their place in the 2017 Constructors Championship and individual deals negotiated with F1 management.
These deals will be in place until the 2020 season, and Liberty Media has already proposed new payment structures to come into force in 2021 in an attempt to make the sport fairer.