Toto Wolff, Valtteri Bottas

Things we learned from the Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has fallen further behind Sebastian Vettel in the championship race after he finished a distant fourth at the Russian Grand Prix, while Mercedes ‘new boy’ has shown his capabilities by claiming a well earned victory.

Hamilton is now 13 points behind Vettel who crossed the line behind Bottas as he claimed his first win in Formula 1 which his team chairman Niki Lauda believes is the first of many.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look back at the key talking points that emerged from an intriguing race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Toto Wolff, Valtteri Bottas

1. Team orders or no team orders at Mercedes?

For all of Hamilton’s problems, his poor show must take nothing away from Bottas who registered the first victory of his career at attempt number 81. Bottas was expected to play second fiddle to Hamilton this season, but he has now out-qualified him for two successive races and moved to within 10 points of his team-mate in the title battle. This provides Mercedes with a mighty problem in that they cannot justify team orders if Bottas is doing the business on the track. Yet it will be music to Vettel’s ears as his path to the title will be made all that more simpler if Bottas and Hamilton continue to take points off each other.

Lewis Hamilton

2. What happened to Hamilton?

Hamilton was at a complete loss to explain why he was so far off the pace in Russia. Hamilton finished a yawning 36 seconds behind Bottas and 25 seconds adrift off third-placed Kimi Raikkonen. The writing however, had been on the wall. Hamilton was nowhere in practice and then qualified nearly six tenths of a second behind pole-sitter Vettel and more than half-a-second adrift of Bottas. Hamilton was slow in Singapore and at the Japanese Grand Prix last year, too, but even then, the deficit of defeat to Nico Rosberg was not as big as here. Hamilton said his Mercedes team will try and figure out what went wrong this week, and he will need a quick fix with the next round in Spain taking place a week on Sunday.

Fernando Alonso

3. When is enough really enough?

A furious Eric Boullier insisted that it is not acceptable for a team of McLaren’s might to see another of their cars absent from the start of the race. First it was Stoffel Vandoorne in Bahrain, and then Fernando Alonso here after his desperately poor Honda engine conked out on the way to the grid. Alonso has failed to finish any of the opening four races, and the sight of him walking back to the McLaren garage was depressing, not just for the Spaniard and his McLaren team – but for the sport, too. Formula One is being deprived of watching one of its finest talents in action in what should be the pomp of his career.

Jolyon Palmer

4. More problems for Palmer

If Jolyon Palmer thought his season could not get any worse then he was wrong. An exhaust issue detected on Friday forced his Renault team to work through the night to change his chassis. Then, an engine failure saw him miss a chunk of time in practice on Saturday morning. He crashed out of qualifying before he crashed out of the race on the opening lap after he tangled with Romain Grosjean. To make matters worse, his Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth to secure his second points-finish on the trot.

Kimi Raikkonen

5. It’s Radio Gaga for Raikkonen

Raikkonen’s radio transmissions have become a thing of F1 folklore and the Finn provided much hilarity again on Sunday. After Raikkonen rejoined the circuit following his one and only pit stop, he was informed by his Ferrari team that he was nine seconds adrift of Bottas – the man who he had been trailing for the entire race. This however, was news to Raikkonen. “What do you mean we are behind Bottas?” He then added: “How did we end up behind him? Why did we not stop earlier?” Delivered in deadpan style, his engineer replied: “He was leading the race, Kimi.”