- It was a better race than most expected in Russia - especially given the fact that there were no true overtakes whatsoever last year and the two fastest cars of the weekend were starting in the front row - but it ended with a bitter taste after the use of team orders by Mercedes. But Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas did their best to put on a brave face. Hamilton said he was “conflicted” about winning or not after the team orders, but in the end thought that “nobody remembers the rights or wrongs of the season, but who wins it.”

- As for Bottas, the only way to move on was knowing that he beat Lewis in qualy and was beating him during the race. “On an equal race, I would have won”, he highlighted. Those were his words, but it was clear the Finn was not 100% happy with how the team dealt with the race. After hearing Hamilton was having blisters on his tyres, and that was why Mercedes had made the call, the first thing he did when he jumped out of the car was to have a look on his teammate’s rubber, only to find what he called, with a timid smile, “a little bit of blister”.

- Nobody likes having a race decided by a team order, but the internal F1 pragmatism, impersonated by Sebastian Vettel’s “no-brainer” remarks about Mercedes tactics, quickly switched the question to how the Brackley team was able to dominate in Sochi. Two moments in particular caught people’s eye: the start and Hamilton’s overtake over Vettel. On both occasions, Ferrari’s well known long straight speed was nowhere to be seen.

- Toto Wolff confirmed after the race that Mercedes had planned for Bottas and Hamilton to help each other with a tow on the long run down to Turn 2, ensuring they kept the Ferraris behind. Hamilton made a slow start and was side-by-side with Vettel at one stage, only to tuck into Bottas' slipstream and pull back ahead of the Ferrari car.

- On Ferrari’s side, the attention was drawn to Mercedes improvements. “I guess they found something. We went as fast as we could”, said Kimi Raikkonen after teh race. Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, highlighted Ferrari’s race pace, considerably better than in qualifying, but didn’t want to make any predictions about the next race in Suzuka: “I’m looking forward to it because it’s my favourite race. But we have to start scoring more points than them otherwise it will be difficult.”

- This time there were no tactical errors from Maranello, but a funny radio chat between Kimi Raikkonen and his race engineer gave a good glimpse of the shape of the team. Kimi was told to “do the opposite” to Hamilton during the pit stops round, to which he answered, in disbelief: “I cannot even see him!”

- The race had some action with the penalised drivers coming from the back of the grid, and the others who had to start with the Hypersofts quickly being exposed by the degradation. The scenario couldn’t be better for Max Verstappen, who jumped from 19th to fifth in eight laps and was voted driver of the day, but wasn’t that impressed after the race. “Our pace is much better than the midfield cars”, said the birthday man, who also celebrated he is now allowed to legally drink in Austin by turning 21. “But only if I get a good result. I’m not the type who drinks to forget.”

- There was also time for some paddock gossip this Sunday in Sochi. It’s no secret that the qualifying format is being looked at, and there is a chance we will have a shootout with less cars and, possibly, less time. One possibility is deciding pole position with only one shot laps by giving the cars limited time in the last part of qualifying.

- What teams are sure about next year, though, is that they will have less money from the commercial rights for the second year running. For 2018, the amount that is divided by the teams fell short by $23 million due to what Liberty Media considers necessary investments to strengthen the future of the sport. For next year, the talk in the paddock is that the teams will have from $35 to $50 million less. As well as Liberty’s growing infrastructure, F1 has been getting less money from TV rights, contributing to the lower returns.

- Russian president Vladimir Putin made his annual appearance at the race in Sochi, watching the closing stages of the race before meeting the drivers in the cool-down room and presenting the winner's trophy to Lewis Hamilton. With help from a translator, Putin told Hamilton not to spray him with champagne on the podium, having done so to celebrate his last win in Sochi back in 2015.



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