hamilton

Lewis Hamilton was handed victory in the Russian Grand Prix after a virtual safety car cost Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc the lead.

Vettel was told a third time to let Leclerc by, but again nothing happened, and the team went on the radio to Leclerc to say: “We will do the swap later.”

vettel
We’ve been here before, Sebastian: In 2013 Vettel refused to stay behind his team-mate Mark Webber at the Malaysian GP – despite repeated requests from Red Bull. He overtook a furious Webber, won the race and the title in the end

“Later” turned out to be the pit stops, when Leclerc was brought in on lap 22 and given four laps on fresh tyres to close sufficiently on Vettel to get back into the lead when the German pitted.

A tight fight to the end appeared in store, with Vettel doubtless wanting to prove the point that he believed he was quicker, Leclerc feeling wronged, and Hamilton coming at them on fresher soft tyres.

Vettel’s retirement threw all that out of the window – but the fall-out from the four-time champion’s actions is likely to continue for some time.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished fourth, after starting ninth following a grid penalty for using too many engine parts, and his team-mate Alexander Albon fought up from a pit lane start following a crash in qualifying to take fifth, as McLaren’s Carlos Sainz won the midfield fight in sixth place.

Driver of the day

Lewis Hamilton's Ferrari is towed away
The fans gave it to Vettel in F1’s official vote, presumably influenced by his pace in the early laps. But this writer will have to duck judgement – the truncated race and safety cars means there are too many unanswered questions. Vettel – not for the first time in his career – adjudged himself too big to obey orders, and the ramifications of that could be huge. And a gripping end to the race, with Leclerc ahead of Vettel and Hamilton attacking the Ferraris, slipped away as a result of Vettel’s retirement

What happens next?

The Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, at magnificent Suzuka. With tensions at Ferrari clear, Hamilton closing on the title, and the finest stage in motor racing, it is a mouth-watering prospect.

Juan Manuel Fangio wins the 1956 British Grand Prix in a Ferrari
“I say, old boy, is this the end of the race?” Leclerc’s sixth career pole position on Saturday drew him level with other Scuderia legends – Juan Manuel Fangio (pictured) and Phil Hill
Ferrari flag in a packed main stand at Sochi
Togetherness? Or a lonely figure? Ferrari have some questions to answer
Charles Leclerc has his head down next to his Ferrari as Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas celebrate in the parc ferme
binotto