2014 FORMULA 1 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX
08 August 2014
“Congratulations on the constructors’ world championship. History in the making!”
With those words Lewis Hamilton swept to his victory in the inaugural Grand Prix on Russian soil – also the Briton’s fourth consecutive win – at Sochi Autodrom on Sunday.
For the world championship points leader it had been a walk in the park for all but a few anxious moments after the start, when team mate Nico Rosberg pulled alongside going into Turn 2. The German had the inside line, but locked up heavily under braking, flat-spotting his tyres so badly that he needed to pit for fresh rubber at the end of the first lap.
That condemned Rosberg to 52 laps on the medium-compound Pirellis, and a race of playing catch-up from 20th place. His recovery was superb, and he finished just 13.6s behind Hamilton at the chequered flag.
The 43-point haul for Mercedes – their ninth one-two and 13th win of the season – clinched the Stuttgart manufacturer’s first Formula One constructors’ world championship crown.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was the only man who could keep the Silver Arrows in sight. He clung to Hamilton initially, but gradually lost ground and was unable to keep his FW36 ahead as Rosberg’s smooth recovery progress brought him up through the field.
The Finn began closing on Rosberg in the final stages, however, setting several fastest laps but ultimately falling 3.7s short in the fight for second. His fifth podium of the season moves him up to fourth in the drivers’ standings, and keeps Williams firmly ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ stakes.
Jenson Button had a tremendous race for the revitalised McLaren team, heading home team mate Kevin Magnussen in fourth and fifth places respectively, while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso just fended off the constant attentions of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to secure sixth.
Sebastian Vettel ran a lot longer than his Red Bull team mate in his first stint this time, but could not stay ahead in the second half of the race and had to be content with eighth.
Kimi Raikkonen was a distant ninth in the second Ferrari, while Force India’s Sergio Perez drove a cracking race, on fumes towards the end, to keep Felipe Massa at bay even though the Williams driver, who started near the back on medium-compound tyres, was running on the faster softs at the end.
Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India was catching Massa towards the end, but ultimately had to settle for 12th, while the Toro Rossos had a horrible time after their practice promise. Home favourite Daniil Kvyat tumbled down the order and finished an unhappy 14th, one spot behind team mate Jean-Eric Vergne.
Esteban Gutierrez beat Sauber team mate Adrian Sutil for 15th, the German delayed when Lotus’s Romain Grosjean inadvertently tapped him into a spin on the 28th lap.
The Frenchman received a stop-go penalty for that but still headed team mate Pastor Maldonado home in 17th and 18th. The final place went to Marcus Ericsson, who fought hard all race to stay ahead of the Venezuelan. His Caterham team mate Kamui Kobayashi joined Marussia’s Max Chilton in retirement; the Japanese driver had overheating brakes, the Briton a suspected suspension problem.
Hamilton now heads the driver standings by 17 points from Rosberg, 291 to 274, with Ricciardo third on 199, still mathematically in title contention with 100 points available from the remaining three rounds.
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