F1 2015 Russian Grand Prix result: Hamilton wins in Sochi
PUBLISHED: 13:43 11 October 2015 | UPDATED: 18:37 11 October 2015
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in an incident-packed 2015 Russian Grand Prix at Sochi as Mercedes claimed the constructors’ crown.
The 30-year-old Mercedes F1 star from Hertfordshire capitalised on team-mate Nico Rosberg’s early retirement to take the chequered flag at the Sochi Autodrom today (Sunday) – and close to within touching distance of a third world title.
Victory made it back-to-back Russian GP wins for Hamilton after also claiming first place in last season’s inaugural race in Sochi. In doing so he became only the ninth driver to win the first two races at a new circuit.
It was also Hamilton’s ninth win of the 2015 season, and the 42nd grand prix victory of his F1 career – lifting him into joint third in the all-time rankings.
Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line second for Ferrari, almost six seconds behind Hamilton, climbing into second place in the Drivers’ Championship in the process ahead of Rosberg.
Mexican driver Sergio Perez completed the podium positions in Russia after a dramatic closing lap.
Williams ace Valtteri Bottas overtook the Force India of Perez on the penultimate lap, with Kimi Raikkonen also passing Perez. But then Bottas and Raikkonen collided on the final lap, with the Williams man crashing out of the race.
Raikkonen limped home fifth for Ferrari behind the Williams of Felipe Massa. Daniil Kvyat was sixth for Red Bull in his home race, with Felipe Nasr seventh for Sauber.
Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado and McLaren men Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 in the provisional race results.
Raikkonen, however, was later hit with a 30-second penalty by race stewards for his collision with Bottas, demoting him to eighth place.
As a result, the Mercedes team clinched the constructors’ championship in Russia for the second year running.
McLaren Honda man Alonso was also hit with a five-second penalty for not respecting track limits at Turn 16, demoting him to 11th behind Max Verstappen.
With Rosberg retiring in Russia, Hamilton now leads his Silver Arrows colleague by 73 points in the title race with only 100 up for grabs.
Vettel is 66 points adrift of Hamilton, who could now win the world title for a third time in USA in a fortnight’s time.
Both Mercedes drivers started on the Option tyres, with Hamilton pitting for his only stop on lap 32 to change to the Prime tyres .
Hamilton said: “It’s just an amazing feeling today. I have a huge admiration for this team. Driving the car through that race, it just felt so good and this is what I’ve always dreamed of having.
“Even though you’re in the front, it’s still a hard race to stay in the zone and not make mistakes.
“We were only doing a one-stop, so you’re trying not to lock up and damage the tyres. I felt like it was a big challenge today.”
After seeing his Silver Arrows team-mate retire, Hamilton said: “It’s a shame I didn’t get to race with Nico, which I was really excited about.
“I’m glad my car made it as the rear wing was getting a bit loose towards the end, so I had to stay off the kerbs and try not to damage the car.
“I’ve got to enjoy what’s going on now and cherish the moment; there are still lots of points available this year.”
After today’s Sochi success, Mercedes are 172 points clear of Ferrari in the team standings.
Hamilton said: “To get the Constructors’ Championship feels very special and a great feeling to be a part of this and to have contributed to the team’s success.
“It’s really an amazing feeling and I’m very proud of them up there on the podium, to see all their smiling faces.
“I feel like a small part in the chain of many people. I’m proud of that part and I look forward to seeing the whole team tomorrow at the factory.
“I knew the guys were going to do a good job this year but they’ve done an even better job this year than last, which is phenomenal.”
Rosberg saw his title hopes dashed in Russia. He said: “Racing can be very tough. You put so much effort into a weekend but in the end I leave Russia with no points. A very disappointing weekend for me.
“It all went well until the Safety Car came out. My throttle pedal came into my direction. At one point I wasn’t able to steer anymore as I had to lift my foot too much and touched the steering wheel with my knee.
“In the recent months I had some unlucky moments, which made it hard in the battle against Lewis. But I will come back and keep pushing.”
Rosberg added: “We can be very happy that we secured the Constructors’ title a second time in a row. So it’s a good day for everyone in the factories and we have to thank all that made this happen.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was delighted to claim a second world championship after a “bittersweet” race.
Wolff said: “Lewis drove a fantastic race and didn’t put a foot wrong even though he had some problems to manage, especially towards the end with an aerodynamic instability on his rear wing.
“But he brought the car home in a really controlled way and strengthened his lead, well done to him.
“But I’m gutted for Nico after a problem with his throttle mechanism forced him to retire. It shows how sport this cruel can be.
“He had a brilliant weekend and opening lap, and I can only take my hat off to him about how he handled the situation, both in the car trying to find a solution – and afterwards in his professionalism.
“It’s another reminder to us that, even with the steps forward we have taken on reliability this year, our work is never done and we need to keep focusing on every tiny detail.
All-time F1 wins
1 Michael Schumacher 91
2 Alain Prost 51
3 Sebastian Vettel 42
= Lewis Hamilton 42
5 Ayrton Senna 41
“But now we can sit back and savour the moment: the party will start tomorrow back at base!”
Further explaining what went wrong with Roserg’s car, Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe said: “After the early Safety Car a problem emerged with Nico’s throttle control, preventing him from lifting off fully and in an inconsistent manner.
“Eventually this got so bad, we retired the car. It’s emerged as a mechanical failure of the throttle pedal damper, which was causing a blockage. We are very sorry to Nico to lose so many points from the lead.”
Turning to Hamilton’s race, Lowe said: “A much better day for Lewis. There were some issues to manage in terms of whether to pit under the Safety Car, but we picked the right strategy and had good pace and tyre consistency through the race to manage the gap well.
“He did have a bit of an issue with his rear wing towards the second half of the race which became worse towards the end, where we were seeing some loss of downforce during braking.
“We had to warn him about that and we will find out in due course what was causing that. A great win for Lewis in the end, so congratulations to him.”
Starting second on the grid, Hamilton tried to overtake Rosberg at the opening two corners, but backed off as the pole-sitter held position.
The Safety Car was deployed on the first lap following a crash involving Marcus Ericsson and Nico Hulkenberg, with both drivers forced out of the race.
Kimi Raikkonen had climbed into third place before the Safety Car came out, but the Ferrari driver was quickly overtaken by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas on the restart.
With Rosberg reporting his “throttle pedal is broken”, Hamilton closed up on his Silver Arrows team-mate.
Lewis Hamilton winning the 2015 Russian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton on the podium with Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez after the 2015 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton edges ahead of Nico Rosberg at the start of the 2015 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
Lewis Hamilton takes the 2015 Russian Grand Prix chequered flag in Sochi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
The start of the 2015 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]
And the reigning world champion from Hertfordshire claimed the lead on lap seven when Rosberg ran wide at Turn Two.
Rosberg’s grand prix – and world championship hopes – came to an end seconds later with his stricken Mercedes limping round the track to the pits and into retirement with throttle issues.
A disappointed Rosberg said: “A really believe I would have won the race.”
With Rosberg out of the race, Hamilton stretched his lead over Bottas in second place.
But the Safety Car was deployed a second time after 12 laps when Romain Grosjean lost control of his Lotus near Turn 4 and crashed into the barrier.
Hamilton quickly opened up a two second lead over Bottas when the Safety Car came in.
With 20 laps gone, Hamilton held a 4.4 second advantage over the Williams driver.
The gap was 9.5 seconds by lap 25 as Hamilton supremely controlled things from the front.
Bottas pitted from second place on lap 26, with Ferrari drivers Vettel and Raikkonen up to second and third respectively.
After 32 laps on used Option supersofts, Hamilton pitted from the lead to switch to the Prime tyres for the final 21 laps.
He then broke the Sochi lap record with a 1m 40.777s, beating Bottas’ best from last year of 1m 40.896s. Hamilton’s new record was later eclipsed by Raikkonen, and then Vettel.
But Hamilton claimed a much bigger prize than the Ferrari drivers – the winner’s trophy from Russian president Vladimir Putin.
And the Stevenage-born racer is now on the brink of claiming his third F1 word title.
McLaren-Honda, meanwhile, scored two points today, Button taking full advantage of the chaos in the closing laps to secure ninth place.
Alonso crossed the line 10th, but was later demoted to 11th, following a stewards’ decision, for corner-cutting.
From the start, both McLaren drivers raced on the fringes of the top 10, but were gradually pushed back as other cars overtook them.
Both pitted under the Safety Car dispatched to enable Romain Grosjean’s Lotus to be cleared from the track, and then successfully measured their tyres and fuel to the end.
Late-race retirements for Carlos Sainz Jnr, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas helped them into the points, only for Alonso to be penalised post-race.
After starting 19th on the grid, Alonso said: “To have both cars finish in the top 10 at a circuit where we didn’t expect to fare well, was a nice surprise.
“It was just a shame to lose out afterwards [owing to a 5s penalty for corner-cutting]. In fact, the car performed very well in the race – I think we were able to look after the tyres a little bit better than the cars around us, and, on an afternoon where every little bit helped, we made the most of that.
“We’ll now hope for more performance at the next race, in the USA. It’ll be tough, and we’ll have to remain realistic, but I’m definitely happy with today’s result.”
Button improved on his starting position of 13th to claim ninth place.
The former world champion said: “Today, we did everything right, did the best we could, and we took home some points.
“I was a sitting duck for the first couple of laps: I couldn’t really fight off the people behind, my deployment was cutting off at the end of the straights, so it was very easy for people to overtake.
“That was tricky: they were trying to pass me into Turn 13, which is a pretty scary place, especially when you don’t have DRS and can’t gauge the closing speed of the cars behind.
“Still, it wasn’t bad. I was racing Fernando for the whole race, which was all I could really do, as all the other cars were quicker.
“We haven’t made massive progress with the car’s performance, but we did lots of interesting things with the set-up this weekend. We’ll analyse those and see whether they paid off or not.”
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