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F1 Championship.russian Grand Prix. by austinereds(m): 5:43pm On Oct 12, 2014
Lewis Hamilton took another step
closer to his second World
Championship by claiming a fourth
consecutive victory in F1’s inaugural
Russian GP – but Nico Rosberg limited
the damage to his own title chances
after a spectacular first-lap lockout by
recovering from last to second place.
In another one-two finish which
emphatically sealed Mercedes' first
Constructors’ Championship, Hamilton
and Rosberg’s afternoons around
Sochi’s picturesque Winter Olympic
Park couldn’t have been more
contrasting after a dramatic second
corner of an otherwise flat 53-lap
race.
Attempting to overtake his team-
mate and title rival into the tight
right-hander, Rosberg was ahead and
had the crucial inside line but simply
went in too hot and locked up both
his W05’s front brakes in a big plume
of smoke, the error sending the
German straight on through the
copious run-off area.
Although briefly ahead as a result of
the error, Rosberg was immediately
ordered by the team over the radio to
cede position to Hamilton and worse
was to instantly follow with the
German forced into an unscheduled
pitstop after a resultant flat-spot
caused major tyre vibrations.
With Rosberg plummeting to the back
of the field, and Hamilton beginning
to ease away from the Williams of
Valtteri Bottas at the front, Sochi
appeared sure to deliver a potentially
decisive moment in the all-Mercedes
title race. However, while there was
no stopping Hamilton at the front -
the Briton enjoying the F1 equivalent
of a cruise in the sunshine to claim his
ninth win of the year and tie Nigel
Mansell’s all-time British victory
record – Rosberg went about limiting
the damage to his growing points
disadvantage in the championship.
With Sochi’s Autodrom smooth
surface creating virtually no tyre
degradation, and the season-long
pace advantage of Mercedes’ W05
proving particularly pronounced
around the track’s sweeping layout,
Rosberg was unfathomably able to
make one set of medium tyres last for
52 laps and surge back through the
field to second place.
Rosberg's part-economy, part-surging
run brought the German back into the
points within 19 laps, and as cars
ahead peeled in for their own single
stops, he was eventually on the back
of Bottas. In what turned into the key
move of the race, Rosberg made a
rather better job of a passing move
into the second corner with a bold
move from a long way back on the
Williams.
With significantly fresher tyres, Bottas
rallied into the closing laps, but
despite clocking the fastest lap of all
on the final tour, the Finn still ended
up nearly four seconds back on the
second Mercedes and had to settle for
third place.
How crucial Rosberg’s fine recovery
drive will prove in the final title
reckoning remains to be seen, but the
reality is that the momentum remains
firmly with Hamilton after the Briton
claimed a fourth consecutive victory
for the second time this year. The
Englishman’s advantage now stands
at 17 points with three races,
including the 50-point Abu Dhabi
bonanza, to come.
"I'm so happy to be here, we've had
an amazing week. I can't wait to come
here again," said Hamilton. "Nico did a
great job to recover from his mistake,
the car was performing well, it's
history for the team and I feel really
proud to be part of it. It's a beautiful
moment."
Fittingly, on the day the works
Mercedes team ended Red Bull’s four-
year reign as F1’s benchmark, the
German manufacturer’s engines
monopolised the top five positions.
In what represented their best two-
car result since the very first race of
the year in Australia, McLaren finished
fourth and fifth with Jenson Button
and Kevin Magnussen respectively to
move, perhaps decisively, back ahead
of Force India in the Constructors’
Championship.
Button experienced a particularly
lonely afternoon on his way to a
second consecutive fourth place
finish – the veteran finishing 12
seconds behind Bottas but 23 ahead
of his young team-mate – yet more
importantly the 34-year-old’s strong
form over the Japan-Russia flyaway
leg further strengthens his claim for a
McLaren contract renewal.
Had it not been for a problematic
pitstop, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso may
have finished between the McLaren
pair but the Spaniard had to content
himself with beating Red Bull’s
Daniel Ricciardo to sixth place.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel had
run ahead of his team-mate through
the first stint but a later pitstop
dropped him to eighth. Kimi
Raikkonen and Sergio Perez rounded
out the points finishers, the Force
India just holding off the second
Williams of Felipe Massa after the
Brazilian’s Q1 exit.
As has proved the case throughout
the weekend in Russia, the F1
community’s thoughts remained with
Jules Bianchi. Before the race all 21
drivers gathered at the front of the
grid in tribute to the critically-injured
Frenchman. Marussia’s most difficult
of weekends ended with Max Chilton
retiring from the race with technical
problems on lap 12.
Drivers’ Championship – Top five1.
Lewis Hamilton – 291 points.2. Nico
Rosberg – 274 points.3. Daniel
Ricciardo – 199 points.4. Valtteri
Bottas – 145 points.5. Sebastian Vettel
– 143 points.
Constructors’ Championship – Top
five 1. Mercedes – 565 points –
Champions.2. Red Bull – 342 points.3.
Williams – 216 points.4. Ferrari – 188
points.5. McLaren – 143 points.

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