• Rosberg forges further clear in the standings with an uncontested lights-to-flag victory in the Russian Grand Prix
  • Lewis Hamilton recovers quickly to second place but cannot mount a challenge on the runaway winner
  • Vettel eliminated on opening lap after being struck twice by Chinese GP sparring partner Kvyat
CLICK HERE for the full Russian Grand Prix race result

Nico Rosberg has maintained his perfect start to the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season with another comfortable win over a recovering Lewis Hamilton in the Russian Grand Prix, while Sebastian Vettel's title aspirations were dealt another severe blow after a controversial collision with Daniil Kvyat.

A flawless performance similar in manner to each of his previous three wins this year, Rosberg made his pole position count to lead from the opening bend, in turn keeping him out of range as yet more fracas broke out behind him before cruising to victory by a clear margin around Sochi Autodrom.

He led home team-mate Hamilton, the defending champion avoiding the first corner dramas and more technical concerns to recover to what would become a distant second place.

A second 1-2 finish of the year for the Mercedes team, a result that puts it 81 points clear in the constructors' reckoning, its cause was aided by a lap one exit for Sebastian Vettel after he was caught up in a clash with Chinese Grand Prix sparring partner Daniil Kvyat

Kicking off when the Russian impacted the back of the Ferrari under braking for turn two, Vettel was wiped out altogether by Kvyat through the long turn three when he was struck again and sent spinning into the wall. Kvyat, in his damaged Red Bull, was subsequently punished with a stop-go penalty.

A bitter blow for Vettel, he wasn't the only casualty from the opening turns as Nico Hulkenberg was spun into retirement by Esteban Gutierrez - who was also given a drive-thru - with Rio Haryanto also forced out, while Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez, Marcus Ericsson all pitted to fix damage sustained in the melees.

With the safety car out, Rosberg led from Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton, who for the first time this year avoided the turn one skirmish by going wide around T2 and rejoining in fifth position.

At the restart, he quickly began his move up the order, passing Massa just as Bottas ahead disposed of a napping Raikkonen around the same turn. Rosberg, meanwhile, ended the first full racing lap with a three second advantage.

Hamilton continued his progress with a bold move on Raikkonen on lap seven and while he couldn't clear Bottas quite so convincingly, he would emerge in second place after the single wave of pit-stops on lap 16 and 17.

With the margin between Rosberg and Hamilton set at around 12secs as they began the second stint, the defending champion attempted to make up ground and seemed to be succeeding as the pair began to encounter traffic. However, after giving the hint of a 'race' as he sliced the margin down to 7.7secs, Hamilton was informed of anomalies in the W07's water pressure, forcing him to back off again as a precaution.

Though the problem would stabilise, Hamilton had already dropped back to 13secs, the Briton admitting defeat and settling for crucial points for second.

As such, Rosberg was cleared to complete yet another comfortable victory by 25 seconds, another maximum score that puts him 43 points clear of Hamilton after four rounds.

Getting the jump on Bottas through the pit-stop, Raikkonen recovered third position to notch up his second podium of the year in what was otherwise a lonely race for the Finn, more than half a minute from the lead.

Bottas and Massa picked up a solid points' haul for Williams in fourth and fifth, the measure of Rosberg's pace shown by the pair being the only other drivers not to be lapped in the race.

With the lap one incidents breaking up the mid-pack, those that avoided contacted were rewarded with impressive results, with Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen notching up their top finishes of the season with runs to sixth and seventh for McLaren and Renault, the latter team in turn scoring its first points of 2016.

Similarly, Romain Grosjean made up impressive ground from starting only 15th, lifting the Haas into the top ten for the third time this year, ahead of Perez, the best of the drivers to recover from pitting at the end of lap one.

Jenson Button made it two McLarens inside the top ten after passing Carlos Sainz late on, the Toro Rosso team failing to score after Max Verstappen was eliminated by technical issues whilst running in sixth..

 

Comments

Loading Comments...