It’s four wins from four races for Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg in the 2016 Formula One season, as he romped to victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The German was superb throughout, as he preserved a comfortable lead to the chasing pack after an eventful start. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton recovered from 10th to finish in second place, while Kimi Raikkonen was third for Ferrari. The result in Sochi leaves Rosberg a whopping 42 points clear at the top of the standings.
Sebastian Vettel endured a day to forget in his Ferrari, as he was forced to retire on the first lap following contact with a familiar foe.
Here are the race results in full, per the F1 Twitter account:
Formula 1 @F1
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION (end of race) #RussianGP 🇷🇺 https://t.co/MnURi7zhqW2016-5-1 13:41:00
These are the updated driver standings following Rosberg's triumph:
|F1 Driver Standings|
|4||DANIEL RICCIARDO||AUS||RED BULL RACING||36|
|8||DANIIL KVYAT||RUS||RED BULL RACING||21|
|10||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NED||TORO ROSSO||13|
|13||NICO HULKENBERG||GER||FORCE INDIA||6|
|14||CARLOS SAINZ||ESP||TORO ROSSO||4|
|15||SERGIO PEREZ||MEX||FORCE INDIA||2|
The day marked the 22-year anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s death, and a lot of the drivers paid their own personal tributes prior to the action starting. Hamilton posted the following on his Twitter feed:
Lewis Hamilton @LewisHamilton
Remembering the greatest on this May 1st 2016. 22 years. You will be my inspiration today, as you have always been. https://t.co/OwJw1073Bq2016-5-1 10:07:18
With Vettel and Hamilton down the field on the grid, the start was always going to be congested. But it was a little too chaotic for the former, as for the second time in as many races he was involved in a tangle with Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat on the opening lap.
After he was given a couple of nudges through the first braking zone, the Ferrari man was unable to steer clear of trouble, picking up a puncture and spinning into the barrier. The team radio picked up just how frustrated the German was after coming into contact with Kvyat again, per F1 journalist Gianlu D'Alessandro *warning, expletive language*:
Gianlu D'Alessandro @Gianludale27
Vettel's team radio after the crash on lap 1 - #RussianGP https://t.co/QGFBpy559J2016-5-1 12:18:47
As we can see here courtesy of Grand Prix Diary, at least Vettel was able to drive something after his crash:
Grand Prix Diary @GrandPrixDiary
Vettel just set the fastest lap. https://t.co/iwR9KhL8bE2016-5-1 12:11:07
"I don't dislike him," said Vettel afterwards of Kvyat, per BBC Sport. "I think he did a mistake two weeks ago, and I think he did a mistake today."
The incident brought out a virtual safety car and when the action resumed, Hamilton, who had already moved up the field early on, set about getting a podium spot secured as soon as possible.
First the Brit darted down the inside of Kimi Raikkonen to take third spot and then after some patient driving behind the Williams of Bottas, was able to edge in front to grab second position. It was brilliant work from the reigning world champion, but amid the frantic start, Rosberg was well down the road.
And as we can see here courtesy of the Mercedes Twitter feed, with the track clear in front of the Silver Arrows, there was very little between the duo as they moved onto the soft tyre compound:
Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1
IDENTICAL lap times from our boys on their first simultaneous soft lap! 1:41.540 for both! SO evenly matched! #F1 #RussianGP2016-5-1 12:47:03
Meanwhile, after being overtaken on track by Hamilton, Bottas was bumped back down into fourth place as Ferrari worked an undercut with Raikkonen’s pit-stop. From there the Finn was able to pull away.
Kevin Magnussen was performing brilliantly in the Renault, tussling in the top 10. F1 journalist James Allen was particularly impressed with the efforts of the Dane:
James Allen @Jamesallenonf1
Great performance by Magnussen today. In Top 10 and fighting furiously, Candidate for Driver of Day #F1 #RussianGP2016-5-1 13:03:08
The race did threaten to come alive at one stage, as Hamilton pushed hard to close the 12-second gap up front. When Rosberg hit traffic, he lost five seconds to his team-mate and excitement levels rose. But with clear air in front of him again, the German, almost casually, set a new lap record to build the lead up again.
When it was revealed Hamilton was suffering with a water-pressure problem, the race for first was effectively over, with Rosberg able to enjoy his seventh race win in succession in the latter stages.
"It's been an awesome weekend, the car has been fantastic. Very, very happy" said the Mercedes man afterwards, per BBC Sport, who has now won seven races in succession. He even had some kind words for his team-mate. "A great job for Lewis to come up to second so quickly from 10th."
Although Hamilton did lose more ground in the quest to defend his world title, he’ll be delighted to have made it all the way up to second in Sochi. Barring an incident involving his team-mate, this was realistically the best he could hope for and he’ll be keen to secure a first win of the season in Spain next time out.