Russian Grand Prix: Cruise for Rosberg as Hamilton limits damage

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It was another cruise for Nico Rosberg as he claimed his fourth win of the season, this time at the Russian Grand Prix where he was simply untouchable as he powered to his 18th career victory to finish ahead of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who turned tenth on the grid to second place when the the chequered flag waved.

Thus Rosberg chalked up his seventh consecutive F1 win – his fourth in a row this year – and with it extending his lead in the world championship points table where he leads triple world champion Hamilton by 43 points in the standings with 17 races remaining.

At one point there was a flicker of hope of a Silver Arrows ding-dong when Hamilton appeared to be reeling in Rosberg at about half a second or more per lap, but the German had it all under control and for good measure even popped the fastest lap of the race in the final laps.

Rosberg crossed the line 25 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who was ahead of third placed Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari, who came out on top after a battle with fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who started on the front row in the Williams but for some reason his race pace went AWOL.

Rosberg equaled the achievement of compatriot Michael Schumacher in winning seven successive races, with only Vettel (nine in 2013 with Red Bull) and the late Italian Alberto Ascari ahead of them.

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He said afterwards, “It’s been an awesome weekend, the car has been fantastic. Very, very happy. I just like to keep going for concentration. If I slow down, that’s when you make mistakes. Keep banging them out.”

“A great job for Lewis to come up to second so quickly from 10th,” added Rosberg.

Hamilton hardly smiled on the podium despite his fight back to second place. He missed the first lap melee and when the safety car came out in the early laps he was fourth behind Bottas and Raikkonen.

Raikkonen messed up the restart and before he knew it he was fourth, watching Hamilton hunt down Bottas. The world champion did not take long to get by, but Rosberg was a dozen seconds up the road.

Nevertheless Hamilton dug deep, reeled out a flurry of good laps before he was told to ease up on the attack, so as to stablise a water pressure issue, which saw him reduce the gap to the leader to seven seconds.

Hamilton reflected, “It was not the easiest first corner but all races have been the same. I’m really happy for the team and I got the points. With the overtake Kimi I don’t think he was expecting me.”

“With Valtteri he didn’t seem to defend so it was quite easy. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind I could win it – I had the pace. But I had a problem again so had to back off. I wasn’t at full throttle down the straights,” explained the reigning world champion.

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Raikkonen, as is his trademark, struggled to crack a smile on the podium, but did say, “Of course it’s not exactly what we want – we want to win races but we tried today, I had a pretty OK start and managed to get past Valtteri on the first lap.”

He added, “After the re-start we didn’t have the pace. Not fast enough for Mercedes. We had good speed but with fuel saving we have to take some measures.”

At the start drama started early and once again it featured Sebastian Vettel, starting seventh in the Ferrari, was hit twice from behind by Russian Kvyat’s Red Bull into turns two and three while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Manor’s Rio Haryanto both retired.

Felipe Massa was fifth for Williams with Fernando Alonso sixth for McLaren, who had their first double points finish since Hungary last year when Jenson Button crossed the line in 10th place.

Kevin Magnussen took Renault’s first points of the season in seventh place with Romain Grosjean continuing his remarkable form with newcomers Haas in eighth place. Force India’s Sergio Perez was ninth.

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Russian Grand Prix, Sochi Autodrom – Race Result

DRIVER COUNTRY TEAM TIME POINTS
1 NICO ROSBERG GER MERCEDES 1:32:41.997 25
2 LEWIS HAMILTON GBR MERCEDES +25.022s 18
3 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FIN FERRARI +31.998s 15
4 VALTTERI BOTTAS FIN WILLIAMS +50.217s 12
5 FELIPE MASSA BRA WILLIAMS +74.427s 10
6 FERNANDO ALONSO ESP MCLAREN +1 lap 8
7 KEVIN MAGNUSSEN DEN RENAULT +1 lap 6
8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN FRA HAAS +1 lap 4
9 SERGIO PEREZ MEX FORCE INDIA +1 lap 2
10 JENSON BUTTON GBR MCLAREN +1 lap 1
11 DANIEL RICCIARDO AUS RED BULL RACING +1 lap 0
12 CARLOS SAINZ ESP TORO ROSSO +1 lap 0
13 JOLYON PALMER GBR RENAULT +1 lap 0
14 MARCUS ERICSSON SWE SAUBER +1 lap 0
15 DANIIL KVYAT RUS RED BULL RACING +1 lap 0
16 FELIPE NASR BRA SAUBER +1 lap 0
17 ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ MEX HAAS +1 lap 0
18 PASCAL WEHRLEIN GER MANOR +2 laps 0
NC MAX VERSTAPPEN NED TORO ROSSO DNF 0
NC SEBASTIAN VETTEL GER FERRARI DNF 0
NC NICO HULKENBERG GER FORCE INDIA DNF 0
NC RIO HARYANTO INA MANOR DNF 0