Hamilton victorious in Russia while Mercedes achieves title

Mercedes F1 Russia 2014

Lewis Hamilton achieved his fourth consecutive victory this season and thereby increasing his lead in the Formula 1 world championship to 17 points over team-mate Nico Rosberg with a commanding win in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

The championship leader also matched Nigel Mansell’s record of 31 Grand Prix victories, which secured Mercedes their first Constructors’ title with three races left in the championship.

Hamilton looked more at ease than Rosberg with the demands of the new 3.6-mile circuit in Sochi, and he converted pole position into his ninth win of the year with a measured drive.

Rosberg also started on the front row, and briefly headed his championship rival after sneaking up the inside after the first run through the flat-out Turn 1 right-hander, but Rosberg locked up heavily under braking for Turn 2 and flat-spotted his front tyres.

That forced Nico into the pits for a tyre-change at the end of the opening lap and effectively handed victory to Lewis.

Extraordinarily, Rosberg made his set of medium Pirelli tyres last 52 of the scheduled 53 laps as he limited the damage to his own championship aspirations by recovering to second in a processional race.

This was the Silver Arrows’ eighth one-two finish of the season which clinched the Constructors’ championship for the Brackley-based team.

Valtteri Bottas ran second for the majority of the first half of the Russian Grand Prix, but had to settle for the final podium spot once he had made his own pit stop and it became clear Rosberg’s tyres would last the distance.

Jenson Button recorded his best result since July’s British Grand Prix by finishing fourth, while McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen – who qualified sixth but started P11 thanks to a grid penalty for a gearbox change – made an excellent start and recovered well to finish fifth.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso also got away well from the grid to climb from seventh and lie fourth at the end of the first lap when Rosberg pitted, but the double world champion ultimately lacked the pace to fight the McLarens and also suffered a delay at his only pit-stop.

Alonso held off Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull to finish best of the non-Mercedes runners and round out the top six.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel ran ahead of his slow-starting Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo in the early stages, but his strategy of running an extended first stint didn’t work out and Vettel had to settle for eighth.

Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant ninth for Ferrari, while Force India’s Sergio Perez survived fears of excessive fuel consumption to claim the final point by rounding out the top ten.

Perez held off the second Williams of Felipe Massa, who started P18 after a fuel pressure problem ruined his qualifying session.

Massa attempted an aggressive two-stop strategy in an effort to recover the lost ground, but in the end fell short to score any points.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg took a close P12, while Russian home hero Daniil Kvyat started a superb fifth but slipped backwards after a scruffy opening lap and wound up finishing P14, behind Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.

All the drivers stood united at the front of the grid ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, as a mark of respect to injured Marussia driver Jules Bianchi.

The French racer’s team-mate Max Chilton raced on in Marussia’s sole entry, but retired with a front-left vibration at the end of his ninth lap.

Russian Grand Prix race results, 53 laps
1 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h31m50.744s
2 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes        +13.657s
3 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     +17.425s
4 Jenson Button    McLaren/Mercedes    +30.234s
5 Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes     +53.616s
6 Fernando Alonso    Ferrari       +1m0.016s
7 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault      +1m1.812s
8 Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      +1m6.185s
9 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari       +1m18.877s
10 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes      +1m20.067s
11 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes       +1m20.877s
12 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes     +1m21.309s
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Renault     +1m37.295
14 Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    +1 Lap
15 Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari    +1 Lap
16 Adrian Sutil    Sauber-Ferrari    +1 Lap
17 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault   +1 Lap
18 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Renault    +1 Lap
19 Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault    +2 Laps

Not classified/retirements
Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault    21 laps completed
Max Chilton    Marussia-Ferrari    9 laps completed

Fastest lap
Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m40.896s, lap 53

Drivers’ championship
1 Lewis Hamilton    291
2 Nico Rosberg    274
3 Daniel Ricciardo    199
4 Valtteri Bottas    145
5 Sebastian Vettel    143
6 Fernando Alonso    141
7 Jenson Button    94
8 Nico Hulkenberg    76
9 Felipe Massa    71
10 Kevin Magnussen    49
11 Sergio Perez    47
12 Kimi Raikkonen    47
13 Jean-Eric Vergne    21
14 Romain Grosjean    8
15 Daniil Kvyat    8
16 Jules Bianchi    2
17 Adrian Sutil    0
18 Marcus Ericsson    0
19 Pastor Maldonado    0
20 Esteban Gutierrez    0
21 Max Chilton    0
22 Kamui Kobayashi    0

Constructors’ championship
1 Mercedes    565
2 Red Bull-Renault    342
3 Williams-Mercedes    216
4 Ferrari    188
5 McLaren-Mercedes    143
6 Force India-Mercedes    123
7 Toro Rosso-Renault    29
8 Lotus-Renault    8
9 Marussia-Ferrari    2
10 Sauber-Ferrari    0
11 Caterham-Renault    0

Next race: United States Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americans. November 2.

5 thoughts to “Hamilton victorious in Russia while Mercedes achieves title”

  1. Nico Rosberg admits his ‘unnecessary’ mistake on the opening lap at Turn 2 which cost him the opportunity to win the Russian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver pitted on lap two and thanks to some excellent tyre management, made it last until the end of the race. The result was second position. Autosport.com has the full story.

    Formula 1 championship contender Nico Rosberg labelled his mistake at the start of the Russian Grand Prix as “very unnecessary”.

    The Mercedes driver made a better start than polesitting team-mate Lewis Hamilton, and dived down the inside of the first corner.

    Rosberg looked set to lead the race at that point, but he had a massive lock-up of both his front tyres and ended up having to go off the track.

    His tyres were so damaged Rosberg had to pit right away, dropping to the bottom of the pack.

    He managed to recover to second place, however, and minimised the damage in a race dominated by Hamilton.

    “It was just a mistake on my side,” said Rosberg. “I just braked too late, that was it. Very unnecessary. It was my corner and should have been the lead I had. Very disappointed with that.

    “After that my tyres were square so I couldn’t see where I was going and had to pit. I thought that was the end of the day but then partly I’m happy to have managed to get back all the way to second.

    “In hindsight, I could have pushed more during the race. It’s always easy to know more afterwards. In the end my tyres were fine. It is a pity but difficult to know that during the race.”

    Rosberg believes he could have made the corner and kept the lead had he not locked up.

    “I think it was definitely doable and I just messed up. Very simple explanation. I braked too late and too hard.”

    The German now trails Hamilton by 17 points with three races – and 100 points – still available.

  2. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso admits beating McLaren was impossible. Autosport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso said the resurgent McLaren Formula 1 team was out of Ferrari’s reach during the Russian Grand Prix.

    Alonso could only finish sixth at Sochi, while McLaren took its best result since its double podium in the 2014 season-opening Australian GP with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen claiming fourth and fifth.

    Although Alonso, who had only qualified eighth, briefly put Button under pressure in the first stint following a rapid start, he felt this was a false situation.

    “I don’t think it was possible [to beat McLaren] to be honest,” he said.

    “I tried to follow Jenson in the first stint, but I was completely on the limit, and I think they were controlling the pace.

    “Then after the stop, I exited behind Kevin and I tried to push but he was pulling away easily.”

    He admitted that fuel conservation had been a big factor for Ferrari in Russia.

    “This race was very demanding on fuel, so we had to do a lot of fuel saving compared to recent races,” said Alonso.

    Although Alonso’s sole pitstop was a slow one, he did not think that affected the final result, suggesting falling back from his early fourth was always inevitable.

    “The start we knew was our biggest opportunity so we took a risk there,” he said.

    “We were fourth but probably out of position because we were not the fourth fastest out there, so slowly in the race we were losing positions – one with [Nico] Rosberg and one with Magnussen.

    “We had a small problem with the stop which I really think didn’t affect our final position, because Nico and Kevin were faster.

    “Sixth was the result we deserved today and we need to do better.”

    McLaren was competitive throughout the Sochi weekend, but Button said he was reserving judgement over whether the performance was a real turning point.

    “Some of it is the circuit, but also I think we have improved the set-up of the car and we have found some other things that work for us,” he said.

    “We’ll see when we get to Austin. I look forward to seeing where we stand. The Tarmac is very similar to here, just a lot more traction zones.”

    Though fourth was Button’s second-best result of 2014, he admitted it was hard to be satisfied with that.

    “It’s good, but you finish fourth and it’s the best result we’ve had in a little while and you still want more,” he said.

    “You are disappointed because you want to be on the podium, and then you are disappointed because you want to win.”

  3. The champagne was sprayed on the podium, and celebratory glasses clinked in the Mercedes hospitality, but Russian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton never lost sight of the bigger picture on Sunday.

    With French driver Jules Bianchi critically ill in a Japanese hospital after suffering severe brain injuries in a crash at Suzuka only seven days ago, a cloud has hung over Formula One all week.

    It was less evident in the Sochi sunshine, with the drivers feeling free to smile and soak each other in the champagne that had stayed in the bottles the previous weekend, but the memory was always there.

    “All week there’s just been one person on my mind, and that’s Jules,” Hamilton told reporters after the team photographs were done with Mercedes jubilant at a first constructors’ title.

    “Of course there’s excitement and happiness for the team,” continued the Briton, whose victory in Russia’s first race brought him a ninth win of the season and a podium handshake with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    “But without a doubt every time I’ve got in the car this week, coming here, and being here, I’ve been thinking about him and his family and keeping him in my prayers every day.

    “Whether it means anything, or whether it does anything, it would be great to be able to dedicate this to him and his family. It will make very small difference to them, for sure. But every bit of positive energy hopefully will help.”

    All the 21 race drivers gathered in a silent circle in front of the safety car on the starting grid before the race, and carried the message ‘Tous Avec Jules #17’ (All with Jules) on their helmets.

    Bianchi’s car remained in the quiet half of the Marussia garage, race ready but going nowhere, with the 25-year-old’s name over the entrance as if he were present.

    Max Chilton was the team’s sole driver, with the Briton lasting just 10 laps before retiring with an undiagnosed mechanical problem.

    Hamilton may have had an easy afternoon run to the chequered flag, after a mistake by team mate and title rival Nico Rosberg lifted any pressure, but the moments before the start were difficult for all the drivers.

    “In the car you don’t think about anything,” said McLaren’s Jenson Button. “That was always the thing with my dad (who died earlier this year) as well. Before the race, after the race, national anthems. It’s horrific.

    “But when you get in the car and close your helmet and you’re racing, it’s a nice place to be. You go into another world.

    “But on the grid it was quite emotional for everyone and we, the drivers, had our little time together. We were there for Jules. Then getting back into the car, that was the trickiest bit,” added the Briton.

    Source: Reuters

  4. Christian Horner commented post-race that Red Bull Racing never considered team orders between Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo. Autosport.com has the story.

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner says his Formula 1 team never considered imposing team orders on Sebastian Vettel to help Daniel Ricciardo in the Russian Grand Prix.

    Ricciardo came on the radio in the early stages of the Sochi race to argue that he was faster than his team-mate.

    His inference was that Vettel should move aside now the German is mathematically out of contention for the championship.

    But speaking after the race, Horner said that the pitwall never even talked about the idea of team orders.

    “No. There was no discussion about switching,” he said. “Obviously it was very early in the race anyway, and so many things can unfold.

    “It didn’t make any sense at that point.”

    Horner said Ricciardo’s title hopes are so remote that orders would be irrelevant.

    “In the end he is 92 points behind with 100 available. He would have to win the last three races with Lewis [Hamilton] or Nico [Rosberg] not finishing, which is a long shot.”

    Ricciardo was able to jump Vettel later in the race after making an early switch to medium tyres, while his German team-mate stayed out longer on the softs.

    Horner said the decision on when to pit Ricciardo was fuelled by blistering on his first set of tyres.

    “Daniel’s stop was dictated by a large blister that appeared in qualifying on his front right tyre,” Horner explained.

    “We were monitoring that really closely in the opening laps of the race and it was always going to be quite a short stint.

    “With Sebastian, effectively starting from qualifying 11th and having freedom of tyre choice, the brand new soft tyre seemed to make more sense, you got the start performance and it was supposed to be the quicker of the two tyres.

    “He had that tyre for approximately half the race and, when we pitted for the prime, we expected the prime to have good performance in the second half of the race.

    “But, as it turned out, a new harder tyre had no more performance than an older tyre. So he was only able to do the same times as Daniel.

    “And, as we saw with Rosberg and Hamilton , even a tyre that had done the entire grand prix was capable of being very competitive.”

  5. Valtteri Bottas stymied by ‘weird’ tyre form that affected his race at Sochi. Autosport.com has the details.

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas described the way his tyres worked as he gave vain chase to Formula 1 rival Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in the Russian Grand Prix as “weird”.

    Bottas ran a close second to Hamilton in the early stages of F1’s inaugural race at the Sochi Autodrom, but fell to third when Nico Rosberg made a lunge down the inside of Turn 2 shortly after Bottas made his solitary pitstop.

    This consigned Bottas to third and the Finn suggested after the race that the way his car worked its tyres had hampered his ability to challenge the Mercedes drivers.

    “The beginning seemed to be very good and I was not far off from Lewis and everything was going to plan,” Bottas explained.

    “The tyres were feeling good and suddenly the rear tyres started to go, started to lose pace and I was struggling more and more and Lewis was getting far away.

    “Then we stopped for the prime [medium tyre] and it took just a really long time to get it to work.

    “It was getting better towards the end – I did my best lap in the last lap of the race. It was really weird.

    “And as it took so long to get the tyres to work, Nico got me in Turn 2.

    “It was a bit of a surprise for me, didn’t expect him to come inside.

    “Luckily I saw him in time so there was no contact.”

    Williams performance chief Rob Smedley suggested Hamilton had just controlled his pace in the early part of the race, and that Rosberg would have passed Bottas even without the Turn 2 ambush.

    “The reality is, if you look back through Hamilton’s first stint – and his second to a certain extent – you’ll see all of a sudden there’s these anomalous laps where he just puts in a second, 1.2, 1.3 seconds,” Smedley argued.

    “He’s not under pressure, he’s going to win the race quite comfortably, and all of a sudden he puts in these laps. That’s their real pace isn’t it?

    “Nico came past – he was on 25-lap older tyres at that point – and he pretty much drove around Valtteri quite easily.

    “If it didn’t happen then it would probably have happened on the back straight or a lap later.

    “I think you’re just talking about the inevitable to be honest.

    “Valtteri’s always very good at being self-critical, and trying to look inward, which is a hugely commendable attribute that he has as a racing driver, but I think the reality is he was beaten by a much, much quicker car.”

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