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2 in a row

Russian Rampage In Sochi: Lewis Hamilton Closes In On 3rd Grand Prix Title

Drafting the Circuits

Formula 1 Report

Russian Grand Prix

By Steve Aibel

@steveaibel

Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix as Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg fell fault to a throttle pedal issue preventing him from finishing the Grand Prix. Rosberg, who took pole and led the early race stage, looks to be headed for a battle with Sebastian Vettel for 2nd position and the focus will be on this unless Lewis Hamilton has tremendously bad luck in the remaining 4 races.

Victory 9 for LH

Victory 9 for LH

The victory was Hamilton’s 9th of the season and his 42nd all time placing him into a tie with Sebastian Vettel for 3rd in Grand Prix wins. A Vettel/Hamilton battle in years to come would work magic on the excitement level within Formula 1. It is a battle both Hamilton and Vettel are relishing!

it's all fun and games until the hats come out

it’s all fun and games until the hats come out

Mercedes clinched their second straight constructors championship in Sochi, which is where they secured their first championship last year. The constructor’s title was not confirmed until the stewards assessed a 30 second time penalty to Kimi Raikkonen after he collided with William’s Valtteri Bottas battling for the final podium position. Bottas race was ended and Raikkonen limped home in 5th, eventually ending up in 8th position after the penalty.

Raikkonen and Bottas tangle while battling for the final podium position

Raikkonen and Bottas tangle while battling for the final podium position

The drop in points for Ferrari after the Raikkonen penalty created enough of a gap for Mercedes to secure the Constructors title.

2 in a row

2 in a row

Sebastian Vettel garnered another second place finish and surprisingly, now sits in second place, ahead of Nico Rosberg. Vettel is having a magnificent year with the Scuderia and if he is able to remain ahead of Rosberg, it will be a huge coup for Ferrari as they rebuild.

Sergio Perez took his first podium of the season with a strategic and mature drive, nursing his tires after an early stop when Romain Grosjean crashed hard into the barriers. Perez tried valiantly to hold on to 3rd position but was passed by both Bottas and Raikkonen who had fresher tires. Perez benefitted from the clash between the Finish drivers repassing them to claim the podium position. Perez is having a strong year with Force India and seems to be delivering on his potential.

Sergio Perez continues to impress with Force India

Sergio Perez continues to impress with Force India

Teammate Nico Hulkenberg had a rougher race as he spun on the opening lap while working through the first corners, eventually tangling with both Max Verstappen and Marcus Ericsson. Considering that Force India had qualified both cars in the top 10, this was mixed fortune for the team at best.

Nico Hulkenberg has a tough outing in Sochi

Nico Hulkenberg has a tough outing in Sochi

Places 5 thru 7 were occupied by some unlikely candidates as Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Nasr, and Pastor Maldonado collected strong points outings. McLaren looked to be in position to have both cars score points until Fernando Alonso was penalized for cutting the corner in turn 16. This dropped Alonso to P11 and advanced Max Verstappen into the final points paying position.

The Grand Prix in Russia was an exciting race, which was an improvement to the inaugural run in 2014. What looked to shape up as a dogfight between the two Mercedes pilots, ended early with the Rosberg throttle issue, but the battling throughout the pack made for an exciting race from start to finish. The start to the Sochi track is a highlight feature with a short chute and kink leading to a long straight and the first big turn. This is a great set up for first lap action!

The Sochi racetrack still needs some seasoning, however, and it may come in the form of a night race starting in 2017. The 2016 calendar places the Russian Grand Prix in May, ending the first set of flyaway races and packaged with Australia, Bahrain and China. With the setting including the Olympic venues and seaside community, a night venue may push the Russian Grand Prix over the top as an elite event.

With four races remaining, it is starting to look as if the question is not if Lewis Hamilton will grab his 3rd Driver’s Championship, but when he will collect it. Hamilton can secure the title in Austin if he finishes 9 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel and 2 points ahead of Nico Rosberg. If Hamilton wins at Circuit of the Americas, then Rosberg will be eliminated and Vettel will only remain in contention if he finishes in second position.

The US Grand Prix will be a homecoming for American open wheel driver Alexander Rossi who will race for Manor. Rossi won the feature race in Sochi for Racing Engineering with the GP2 series and in his F1 outings, outscored teammate Will Stevens at Singapore and Suzuka. Look for Rossi to be a big story in Austin.

Alexander Rossi impressiive again in GP2 feature win

Alexander Rossi impressiive again in GP2 feature win

It is certainly Hamilton’s title to lose and he will have to work extremely hard to lose it. Hamilton’s name is written in pencil on that 3rd championship trophy. It might be etched in stone in Austin!

 

Drivers’ Championship

  1. Lewis Hamilton 302
  2. Sebastian Vettel 236
  3. Nico Rosberg 229
  4. Kimi Raikkonen 123
  5. Valtteri Bottas 111
  6. Felipe Massa 109
  7. Daniil Kvyat 76
  8. Daniel Ricciardo 73
  9. Sergio Perez 54
  10. Romain Grosjean 44
  11. Nico Hulkenberg 38
  12. Max Verstappen 33
  13. Felipe Nasr 25
  14. Pastor Maldonado 22
  15. Carlos Sainz Jr. 12
  16. Fernando Alonso 11
  17. Marcus Ericsson 9
  18. Jenson Button 8

 

Constructors’ Championship

  1. Mercedes 531
  2. Ferrari 359
  3. Williams 220
  4. Red Bull 149
  5. Force India 92
  6. Lotus 66
  7. Toro Rosso 45
  8. Sauber 34
  9. McLaren 19
  10. Manor/Marussia 0

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