Lewis Hamilton won the first ever Russian Grand Prix with a dominant performance around the Sochi circuit. The result was confirmed on Twitter by Sky Sports F1:
The Mercedes driver’s lead was rarely under threat, although Nico Rosberg almost edged out Hamilton into the first corner. But the German overcooked his move into Turn 1, locked up his tyres and was forced to pit. He recovered superbly, though, and eventually finished in second place.
The Mercedes one-two means they're the 2014 constructors' champions too, as confirmed on Twitter:
Joining the pair on the podium was Williams' Valtteri Bottas. Here are the updated world championship standings and full race results:
|Formula 1: World Championship Standings|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Australian||Red Bull Racing-Renault||199|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||German||Red Bull Racing-Renault||143|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||German||Force India-Mercedes||76|
|11||Sergio Perez||Mexican||Force India-Mercedes||47|
|Formula 1: Russian Grand Prix Results|
|2||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||+13.6 secs||2|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Mercedes||+17.4 secs||3|
|4||22||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||+30.2 secs||4|
|5||20||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren-Mercedes||+53.6 secs||11|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||+60.0 secs||7|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||+61.8 secs||6|
|8||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||+66.1 secs||10|
|9||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||+78.8 secs||8|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||+80.0 secs||12|
|11||19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||+80.8 secs||18|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||+81.3 secs||17|
|13||25||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Renault||+97.2 secs||9|
|14||26||Daniil Kvyat||STR-Renault||+1 Lap||5|
|15||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap||13|
|16||99||Adrian Sutil||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap||14|
|17||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||+1 Lap||15|
|18||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||+1 Lap||21|
|19||9||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham-Renault||+2 Lap||16|
|Ret||10||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham-Renault||+32 Laps||19|
|Ret||4||Max Chilton||Marussia-Ferrari||+44 Laps||20|
In the first ever race in Russia, getting pole position was perceived as vital by many, and it was Hamilton who started at the front of pack. Ahead of the race, the Mercedes man spoke of the significance of starting on pole, per James Galloway of Sky Sports: "Pole position is a great place to start; it was an amazing job from the team to keep on improving. It's a beautiful place; I'm really enjoying driving this track. It's been done really nicely."
Prior to the race, the drivers stood in unison on the pit straight to show support for Jules Bianchi, who suffered a terrible injury at the Japanese Grand Prix, per Sky Sports F1:
The run down into the first turn is the longest on the Formula One calendar, and as such, the start to the race was hotly anticipated. When the lights went out, it was Hamilton who initially got away the better of the two Mercedes men, but Rosberg found a nice slipstream and eased in front going into the first turn.
But the German had misjudged his move, resulting in a spectacular lock-up and a wide run into Turn 1. Disappointingly for Rosberg, the subsequent vibrations meant that he had to yield first place and then pit; he was faced with a daunting proposition for the rest of the race, per F1 Racing on NBC:
The drama of the move was captured here, courtesy of Sutton Images:
As noted by Literal F1, at this juncture, Rosberg needed a miracle to get back into the race:
There were no other major bumps on the opening lap, allowing Hamilton to extend his lead at the front of the pack from Williams’ Bottas. But we were treated to some fantastic racing early on, as the drivers started to feel their way around a new track. Turn 3 in particular really caught the eye, as cars were often three abreast at full speed around the corner.
Hamilton was looking imperious at the front of field, and consequentially, the eyes turned to some of the more closely fought battles farther back. Red Bull teammates Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were separated by less than a second in the early stages, but the Australian was unhappy about the pace of his teammate, as noted here by Sky Sports F1:
Meanwhile, after a disastrous start to the day, Rosberg’s engineers felt they were still in with a chance of getting on the podium come the end of the 53 laps, per Sky Sports F1:
And on Lap 20, he was back in the points scoring positions, as the German easily passed Sergio Perez into Turn 2 to take 10th place. But with more than half the race remaining, it would be intriguing to see just how Rosberg managed a set of degrading tyres.
Indeed, not long after passing Perez, the Mercedes man admitted he felt as if his tyres were beginning to go. But his teammate—who was still cruising at the front of the pack—had no such concerns, per F1 Racing on NBC:
But the German continued to put drivers under pressure and scythe through the field. After the majority of drivers had conducted their own round of pit stops, Rosberg found himself in second place, circa 20 seconds back from the leader. With a host of drivers banking on the Mercedes' tyres falling off a cliff, we were set for an enthralling end to the race.
It was a gamble worth taking for Rosberg given his deficit in the world championship, but with 10 laps to go, it was on a knife edge as to whether it was going to pay off.
Rosberg began to push from second place, setting fastest lap after fastest lap in a blistering spell. The initial thoughts were that he was looking to build up a gap and pit again. But when a conversation with the Mercedes engineer emerged, remarkably, the German suggested he could yet go all the way to the end, per F1 Racing on NBC:
And as it transpired, Rosberg drove magnificently in the latter stages of the race. Although his teammate ran away with the eventual victory, the manner in which the German nursed the tyres around an unfamiliar circuit for 52 laps was majestic.
Bottas also did wonderfully well to get on the podium, and the Fake Charlie Whiting Twitter account paid tribute to his efforts:
As for Hamilton, he won't get many afternoons easier than this one.
He wasn't threatened throughout the 53 laps and looked extremely comfortable. The 2008 world champion has the momentum going into the latter stages of the season, and it's going to take a mighty effort from the German to salvage his faltering title charge.
Rosberg can't get desperate though, as he did in the opening stages here. He has shown himself to be capable of matching Hamilton when he drives sensibly, and the first few seconds aside, he was sensational in Russia. Now he needs to be patient, wait for his opportunities in the last few races and be clinical when they arise. Otherwise, his teammate will run away with this championship.