The spectacular venue at the Russian Grand Prix wasn’t enough to save the race day from becoming a rather tepid and processional affair, inaugural grand prix or not.
It was business as usual for the Mercedes F1 crew on Saturday as Lewis Hamilton secured pole position with team mate Nico Rosberg close behind followed by the sprite Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
The top five positions were separated by less than a second so the omens were good for a tight race on Sunday. It really wasn’t, the major excitement was on race day was the opening lap when Nico Rosberg went for the lead going into turn two. Rosberg chose the inside line, and therefore dirty side of the track, to challenge Hamilton.
However the lack of tyre and brake temperature probably didn’t help Rosberg’s cause as he locked up his brakes, missed the tight right hander and went straight, with smoke, momentarily, billowing off his tyre’s.
Rosberg’s mistake caused an immediate and severe flatspot to his tyres and the German driver was forced to pit for a new set before the opening lap of the 53 lap race was completed, this dropped him down the field to 20th position and out of contention for victory.
To be fair Hamilton had looked untouchable throughout the weekend and during the race eased to victory without breaking a sweat. Rosberg recovered valiantly from 20th to second place a result which underscored the dominance of the Mercedes F1 package.
The William’s of Valtteri Bottas gave the Mercedes duo up front something to think about early, but faded when it mattered most, he was better than the rest however it all added up to a 17 second deficit to Hamilton and a 4 sescond gap to a recovering Rosberg when the race was completed.
The McLaren’s looked to be showing an improvement in form lead by Jenson Button who finished 4th with team mate Kevin Magnussen in fifth. Behind these two was the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso who was fending off the attentions of Daniel Ricciardo’s Redbull.
The Mercedes 1-2 finish and 43 points haul meant that the team won a historic first Constructors Championship despite Mercedes having a long and often interrupted association with the sport that goes back to the 1950’s.
This was the ninth 1-2 finish and 13th win of the season for Mercedes F1 with Hamilton recording his 4th victory in a row. The drivers championship is the real interest, its the age old gladiatorial spirit that the race going fans like to see but didn’t see much of during the race for victory.
Hamilton’s recent form looks in danger of overwhelming Rosberg and Nicos’s mistake at the first corner is indication that Hamilton is beginning to gain an unstoppable momentum to wining this years championship. Hamilton notched up 31 wins in Russia equaling Nigel Mansell for the most wins by a British driver.
Hamilton now leads his team mate in the drivers championship by 17 points as they head to the next race in the United States in two weeks time.