Charles Leclerc takes fourth straight pole at Russian Grand Prix

Tanya Simon
September 29, 2019

Charles Leclerc has claimed that his and Sebastian Vettel's starts of the Russian Grand Prix were identical, with Vettel gaining the lead via the slipstream to trigger pre-arranged team orders.

Just a week later, on another circuit where, theoretically, the SF90 should be struggling, once again Ferrari appears to have the upper hand.

Hamilton is bidding for his first win since the summer break and his Mercedes team is often the dominant force in Russian Federation, having won all of the five races staged here.

But for Wolff, the victory was mostly proof of the hard work put in by every member of the Mercedes team in Sochi to overcome what had looked to be a dominant Ferrari threat.

"I try not to think about the championship, just take it one race at a time".

"The last lap was the best of the weekend, as it should be, no mistakes or anything like that", he said.

"I just mean in terms of putting the flawless lap together I feel like each time I'm getting as close to that as possible", he added.

Leclerc complained vigorously on the team radio as Vettel pulled clear and made it virtually impossible for them to swap positions as they sought to take advantage of running on soft tyres while Mercedes were on mediums in the opening laps.

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"Just one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, we don't want to stumble, of course we've got to keep putting on performances like this in and I know the bosses back in Stuttgart will be super happy with today", he said. We view the stock's recent pullback since July 16 has provided good entry point in here.

Vettel had enjoyed a stunning start in pole-sitter Leclerc's slipstream, beating Hamilton immediately and then cutting inside his colleague at the first corner.

Moments after the restart, Russell suffers a mechanical issue and skid into the barrier at Turn 8, leading to a full Safety Car. Ferrari chose to pit Leclerc and put him on new tires for the remaining 20 laps.

The resulting Virtual Safety Car allows Hamilton to pit and stay ahead of Leclerc, though Bottas remains in third.

But to win, he said, "we had to be ideal - and we haven't been flawless today".

"Obviously it was a big shame because I think we had a good chance today to finish first and second".

"But whether it will have been enough to challenge, I don't know, because I could not overtake Valtteri and Lewis was quicker than Valtteri".

However, Vettel's auto developed engine trouble on its first lap out of the pits which led to a Virtual Safety vehicle being instituted - the timing of which led to Hamilton, who had taken the lead following Ferrari's pit stops, cementing his position at the head of the field.

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