Russian Grand Prix: Hamilton Wins On The Streets Of Sochi Photo:
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Peter Anderson | Oct, 12 2015 | 2 Comments

Lewis Hamilton has taken a commanding win on the streets of the Russian resort town of Sochi, his main title rival ending his day early with an obscure part failure on his throttle pedal.

A late race contretemps between the two Finnish drivers, Bottas and Raikkonen, saw Sergio Perez take an unlikely - and well-deserved - third place and Mercedes secure the 2015 Constructor's title.

Daniel Ricciardo suffered a failure less than fifteen laps from home, the Australian having made the most of an ambitious tyre strategy.



Friday in Sochi was mostly underwater, with Nico Hulkenberg topping FP1.

Felipe Massa, in a Williams that has thus far regarded water with the fondness akin to the way cats regard a bath, topped FP2.

Encouragingly, the McLarens survived most of FP2, with Alonso managing fifth fastest before his session ended with a return to the pits for a problem.

Either way, not many laps were completed, with Carlos Sainz in particular less than pleased. He would be rather more unhappy on Saturday in FP3 when he had a high speed accident on the way out of Turn 13.

His car snapped into the barrier on the left, tearing off wheels and sending him into the Tepco barrier.

The much-criticised low noses of the cars were blamed for the unfortunate resting place of the crashed car.

The Toro Rosso was buried underneath the barriers and had dislodged the arcmo behind them, with former Jordan GP technical director Gary Anderson telling the BBC, "You don't have to be a brain surgeon to realise this was always going to happen with low noses."

Sainz was removed from the car and conscious, with the FIA medical delegate telling waiting journalists that he had tried to remove his own helmet. He was choppered away, but not before giving a thumbs-up to the cameras.

Mercedes-powered cars dominated the timesheets in FP3, with Rosberg fastest ahead of Bottas and Hamilton.

Alonso would start at the back of the grid after trying out a new Honda engine on Friday and taking new parts on the intended race engine, leaving him with a 35-place penalty. He failed to make it out of Q1 but was otherwise happy.

Rosberg took his second pole in a row, sharing the front row with Hamilton, followed by Bottas, Vettel and Raikkonen.



Another cool day greeted the drivers, overcast and breezy.

Carlos Sainz fronted up for duty on Sunday morning and was declared fit to race by the FIA and given dispensation to race by the stewards. He would start at the back of the grid in his rebuilt car, later admitting to feeling dizzy early in the race.

Rosberg trundled the pack to the grid to try and shorten his time stationary on the pole position.

The five lights went out and, as usual, the Mercedes got away well. Through turn one the pack spread across the track and swept through. Bottas looked to challenge into turn two, with Raikkonen right on his tail, but both thought better of it.

Further back, though, it all unravelled. Nico Hulkenberg slid off the road but came back on and into Max Verstappen. He may have got away with it but Marcus Ericsson locked wheels with him, ending both their races.

Verstappen made it back to the pits with a shredded rear tyre but rejoined the pack at the back. Romain Grosjean also pitted for a new nose.

Racing restarted on lap four and Bottas shot past Raikkonen into third. Rosberg was having trouble with a sticking throttle, his team assuring him that hitting the brake will unstick it.

Vettel attempted to pass Raikkonen with the aid of the race's first DRS activation, but the Finn was having none of it.
Daniel Ricciardo was running eighth behind Kvyat (who'd had a bit of a lock-up on the start), behind the Force India of Perez.

Up front the lead changed as Rosberg struggled with his throttle, Bottas quickly taking advantage.

Rosberg slowed and the two Ferraris swept by, the Mercedes rolling into his pit box and the driver jumping out to retire.
Back in eighth place, Felipe Nasr was holding back a rampant Felipe Massa. The Williams driver had managed considerable progress from his P15 start and harangued the Sauber driver for position.

Mercedes released Hamilton from his fuel saving to try and get away from Bottas who was a mere two seconds behind.

The Safety Car came out again after Romain Grosjean stuffed the Lotus into the barriers at turn three. The Frenchman didn't immediately jump from the car, which was missing one tyre, the other three pointing in random directions.

As marshals approached, he leapt out and was later cleared of injury.

Grosjean had been following Button's McLaren closely around the long left-hander when the car snapped into oversteer. Grosjean corrected but he ended up pointing straight at the barrier and out on the marbles. He steered away from the wall but the car went in sideways, the barriers spitting him back out into the run-off area, the car spinning wildly.

Ricciardo, Perez, Button and Sainz pitted under the safety car and returned to the track for an extended period behind the SLS as the barriers were repaired with gaffer tape. Ricciardo lost out in the stops, falling to eleventh behind Sainz.
Racing resumed at the end of lap sixteen.

On the restart Vettel tried to pass Vettel again at turn two, the Finn making life very difficult until the German tried again a few corners later. Raikkonen was quickly on the radio complaining of a lack of top-end in the straights.

Ricciardo and Sainz had a hugely entertaining battle on lap 18, all over tenth place. The young Toro Rosso charger tried the inside and outside lines while Ricciardo overtook him and defended hard.

Sainz's bravery was clearly undimmed after his Saturday crash, Ricciardo's racecraft faultless. Sadly for Sainz, Button dobbed him in for crossing the white line at the pit exit, copping a five second penalty.

Up front, Hamilton coasted away to a ten second lead from Valtteri Bottas. The Williams driver's tyres were going off in a big way, allowing Vettel to get very close. Williams called Bottas in on lap 27 and he rejoined behind the Toro Rosso of Sainz. Ferrari saw this as an opportunity for Raikkonen to push and jump his countryman.

Vettel was the first of the Ferraris to pit on lap 31. Vettel came out ahead of Bottas, as might be expected, but he had yet to see what Raikkonen was able to do. The Ferrari Finn pitted on lap 32. Raikkonen came out behind Bottas who almost lost his place by trying to pass Ricciardo and hold off the Ferrari at the same time.

Again, McLaren's radio feed provided some valuable entertainment. Alonso's engineer told him he would be racing Massa, to which the Spaniard replied, "I love your sense of humour."

Meanwhile Massa sailed past, through a gap with Alonso on one side and Felipe Nasr exiting the pits on the other.
Raikkonen seized a golden opportunity to pass Valtteri Bottas on lap 36.

The Finn tried to go around Daniel Ricciardo but got on the marbles and went wide. Raikkonen got by but could't hold the position after running wide, the Williams driver steadying himself and driving away.

Force India's Sergio Perez found himself in third position, his stop under the Safety Car paying dividends with 11 laps remaining. Similarly, Ricciardo had stopped at the same time, running fourth and well ahead of his teammate.

Felipe Massa didn't let Kvyat keep that place for long - on lap 44, the Williams driver grabbed it with a slick move on the Russian at his home race.

Another Williams overtake on a Red Bull came a lap later, Bottas flashing by Ricciardo who was beginning to struggle on old tyres. Raikkonen passed the Red Bull a lap later at turn two but got it wrong by running wide, the Australian holding position for another two laps.

Carlos Sainz's impressive performance ended on lap 47, the left front brake failing and pitching him into a spin. He backed into the barriers at turn ten, got going but started shedding wing parts, the young Spaniard wisely parking after a couple of corners.

His rear wing end fence was retrieved by a marshal who gave Sebastian Vettel a fright as he rounded the corner.
Ricciardo's run ended on lap 49, the Red Bull driver pulling over and jumping out of the car with suspension trouble.

"I'm happy with how I drove but it's a shame we don't have any points to show for it," he said.

"The risky strategy was working well and we were looking good to earn some decent points. I came out of turn four and I felt something was not right and I reported back to the team.

"I think considering we weren't expecting too much from this track, we can be pleased that we were racing with the faster cars of Williams and Ferrari and managed to keep them behind us for a good while."

The battle for third would run almost to the end of the 53 laps.

Bottas had a challenge ahead of him in the Mercedes powered Force India, which had a very respectable turn of speed, even on old tyres.

The Finn had a chance to pass Perez but got too much wheelspin at a critical point, allowing Raikkonnen to get close. Williams gave their man the most power available from the engine, giving him the boost he needed.

Bottas forced his way past Perez on the final lap and Raikkonen followed him through, the Mexican's dream of a podium seemingly over.

Just a few corners later Raikkonen piled into Bottas from way too far back. Raikkonen's front left clobbered Bottas' right rear, pitching the Williams in a spin and into the barriers.

Raikkonen was later given a ten second stop-go which was applied as a thirty second penalty, bumping him down the order and awarding Mercedes their second constructor's championship in a row.

Fernando Alonso also lost his point for finishing tenth, penalised for cutting the track. Max Verstappen was promoted into tenth.

Out in front, Hamilton had been having trouble with his rear wing, his team telling him not to use DRS, as though it would be of any use with a ten second gap back to Vettel.

He crossed the line for his second Russian win in a row and his forty-second career win.

Formula 1 returns in two weeks for the US Grand Prix.

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