14 Oct 2014

Hamilton wins in Russia

12:31 pm on 14 October 2014

Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural Russian Grand Prix and extended his Formula One lead to 17 points as Mercedes clinched the team's first constructors' title.

The Briton, who started on pole position, chalked up his fourth win in a row and ninth of the season with German team mate Nico Rosberg finishing second in another Mercedes one-two.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Rosberg locked his wheels up at the first corner and damaged his tyres in a costly error.

With 100 points still to be won from the final three races thanks to double points in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton has 291 points to Rosberg's 274 with everything still to fight for.

Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, also became only the fourth driver in F1 history to win nine races in a single season and equalled Nigel Mansell's British record of 31 career victories.

On a warm and sunny afternoon in the Black Sea resort, Rosberg kept himself firmly in contention with a fine recovery drive from 20th place after his second lap pitstop.

"Nico did a great job to return from his mistake," said Hamilton. "To get the first championship for Mercedes Benz is amazing, a beautiful day."

"It's very cool to have won the first race here."

Finland's Valtteri Bottas finished third for Williams, and set the fastest lap, in a race watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a circuit snaking around some of the landmark venues from this year's Winter Olympics.

Putin also presented the trophies, in what Hamilton described as a 'kind of surreal' moment, with the drivers making sure he had left the podium before spraying the champagne that had lain virtually untouched last weekend following Jules Bianchi's horrific accident in Japan.

McLaren's Jenson Button finished fourth with Danish team mate Kevin Magnussen fifth.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was sixth, after a chaotic pitstop, while Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel were seventh and eighth.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took ninth place, with Force India's Sergio Perez 10th.

The one-two was the ninth of the season for Mercedes, one shy of McLaren's 1988 record, and formally ended Red Bull's run of four titles in a row.

Before the start, the 21 drivers had stood silently in a circle on the starting grid in a tribute to Bianchi, who remains critically injured, while the Russian national anthem sounded.

The 25-year-old Marussia driver was in all their thoughts following his crash into a recovery tractor at Suzuka and the sport breathed a collective sigh of relief that the race in Russia was uneventful.

While Hamilton had an easy afternoon on the track, others remained haunted by Suzuka.

Marussia entered only one car for the race, keeping Bianchi's in the garage, with Britain's Max Chilton lasting just 10 laps before returning to the pit lane and retiring.

Rosberg, who started alongside Hamilton on the front row, got ahead of his team mate at the start but then locked up and went wide, 'flat spotting' his front tyres in the process.

"It was just a mistake on my side... after that the tyres were just square, vibrating so much. I thought that was it," the German told reporters.

Told to give the place back, the German informed the team he would have to pit.

After a change from the soft to medium tyres, he rejoined with only Brazilian Felipe Massa behind him in the second Williams, asking over the radio 'what's the strategy now?'.

"We think we need to go to the end on these," came the reply and Rosberg did just that, making the tyres last for the remaining 52 laps.