Hamilton Steps Closer To World Championship With Victory In Russia
Formula One
Lewis Hamilton put one hand on 2015 F1 drivers championship with an unflustered and untroubled victory at the Russian Grand Prix. Hamilton had looked second best to his team mate all weekend and didn’t seem to have the outright qualifying pace to seal pole position on Saturday which went to Rosberg. The Mercedes pair were ominously dominant through all practice sessions but as always Sunday is where a Grand Prix is won or lost. Rosberg lost out on lap 7 after his Mercedes developed throttle problems which forced him out of the race. 2015-Russian-Grand-Prix-Podium-Race-Start With Rosberg out of the equation Hamilton had an easy path to victory wrapping up his 42nd win and all but sealing his third drivers championship. Behind Hamilton there was a race full of drama and more plot twists than a well written Hollywood blockbuster. The start was marred by a first lap incident, turn 2 saw the Force India driven by Nico Hulkenberg make an unforced error. Hulkenburg spun and wiped out the Sauber driven by Marcus Erickson, Torro Rosso’s Max Verstappen had to take avoiding action and drove over shards of carbon fiber that scattered as a result of the impact from the collision and he was forced to pit after suffering a puncture. Another safety car was called on lap 12 after Romain Grosjean spun on the fast and long left hand kink on turn 3. Grosjean lost front end grip following the car infront and slid onto the marbles which for a F1 car is like skating on ice. His Lotus crashed heavily into the tyre wall. 2015-Russian-Grand-Prix-Grosjean-Crash Grosjean was fine but the safety car meant Hamilton’s lead had evaporated. When the safety car was called in on lap 17 Hamilton again waltzed away. Behind him the Williams driven by Bottas looked well suited to the Sochi race track. Powered by a Mercedes engine the Williams had good starightline speed and was able to keep Vettel’s Ferrari at bay. But the Ferrari had the better grip into and out of corners and was also able to power out slightly earlier too. This meant the Ferrari was actually faster for a majority of the lap but unable to match the Williams on the straight. But Vettel did eventually get past and later on in the race Bottas found himself fighting off the Force India of Sergio Perez who had gone for one stop tyre strategy. Perez was in contention for a podium position, his tyre management enabled him to get ahead of Bottas at the pitstops. Kimi Raikkonen was in fine form all weekend and in the early stages of the race fought a wheel to wheel battle for 4th with his team mate. 2015-Russian-Grand-Prix-Rakkonen-Vettel Vettel was the faster of the two and by mid way through the race Raikkonen found himself in 5th after Bottas made a faster pit stop, both were closing in on Perez whose Force India was beginning to fade as the tyres were well past the peak performance window. The inevitable happened on lap 52 of the 53 lap race, Bottas took third and Raikkonen followed through demoting Perez from 3rd to 5th in less than one corner. But Raikkonen clearly had more speed than Bottas and hustled the Williams for the last podium position. In these situations it can end badly and it did as Raikkonen went for position on the last lap. Raikkonen braked from at least two car lengths behind Bottas going into turn 13 which is almost like a tight right hand chicane. 2015-Russian-Grand-Prix-Raikkonen-Bottas-Collide-Lap-53 Bottas took his normal line and Raikkonen who was clearly committed to the overtake anticipated Bottas would see him and yield the corner and therefore 3rd place. Bottas neither saw Raikkonen nor did he have any intention of yielding anything and was punted out of the race by the Ferrari. Raikkonen limped on, his car damaged but driveable, the irony was that Perez was handed back his 3rd place on the podium by Raikkonen’s last minute lunge. Raikkonen dragged home the Ferrari into 5th but would be later handed a penalty and demoted to 8th for causing a collision. 2015-Russian-Grand-Prix-Podium Raikkonen’s post race penalty meant that Mercedes crept over the line to win the constructors championship. There was some solace for Williams as Massa, who started the race in 15th, brought home his Williams to a spirited 4th. Full Race Results:
Pos. Driver Country Team Time Points
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes 1:37:11.024 25
2 Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari +5.953s 18
3 Sergio Perez MEX Force India +28.918s 15
4 Felipe Massa BRA Williams +38.831s 12
5 Daniil Kvyat RUS Red Bull Racing +47.566s 10
6 Felipe Nasr BRA Sauber +56.508s 8
7 Pastor Maldonado VEN Lotus +61.088s 6
8 Kimi Räikkönen FIN Ferrari +72.358s 4
9 Jenson Button GBR McLaren +79.467s 2
10 Max Verstappen NED Toro Rosso +88.424s 1
11 Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren +91.210s 0
12 Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams DNF 0
13 Roberto Merhi ESP Marussia +1 lap 0
14 Will Stevens GBR Marussia +2 laps 0
15 Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull Racing DNF 0
NC Carlos Sainz ESP Toro Rosso DNF 0
NC Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus DNF 0
NC Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes DNF 0
NC Nico Hulkenberg GER Force India DNF 0
NC Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber DNF 0
Fastest Lap – Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1m 40.071s (lap 51)  
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