This was the second time the Russian Grand Prix will be held at the Sochi Olympic complex. The race in 2014 was won by Lewis Hamilton. With only four races left in the season, pressure is on Sebastian Vettel, if he is going to have a chance to clinch the Drivers’ Championship title. However, it wasn’t meant to be in Russia, as Hamilton took the chequered flag, his ninth win this season, followed by Vettel in second place and Sergio Perez in third place. It also buried Nico Rosberg’s chances of catching his teammate.
Qualifying took place under dry conditions and without any incidents. Nico Rosberg drove superbly, taking the fastest lap times in all three qualifying rounds, easily giving him the pole position – his third this season. Team mate Hamilton took second place on the grid, followed by Bottas, Vettel and Raikkonen. Carlos Sainz did not manage to qualify, but was given permission by stewards to race anyway. The two Mercedes drivers posted new track records as well.
Rosberg took the lead from pole position, but right off the bat Nico Hülkenberg spun out of the race, colliding with Max Verstappen and Marcus Ericsson – Ericsson had to retire on the spot, but Verstappen was able to continue after repairing a flat tyre. The safety car was already deployed. Positions remained unchanged until lap 7, when Hamilton overtook Rosberg, who was out of the race with throttle problems. The next accident took place in lap 12, when Romain Grosjean crashed. Luckily he was unhurt and the safety car was deployed. By lap 27, Hamilton remained in the lead, with Vettel hot on his heels, followed by Raikkonen. The next retirement was Sainz, with brake problems, followed by Ricciardo with suspension problems. In lap 53 Bottas and Raikkonen collided, with Bottas out of the race – Raikkonen still managed to finish in fourth place. In the final lap, the race order was Hamilton, Vettel and Perez and this remained unchanged. A strong finish for Mexican driver Perez, his highest finish this season, was a welcome surprise for Team Force India.
The season is slowly coming to an end and the battle for the Drivers’ Championship title is coming to a close. Hamilton remains in first place with 302, a 66 point lead. Vettel moves up one place to second, with 236. He still has a chance to clinch the title, but it is getting more and more difficult. Rosberg moves down one place to third, with 229 points. Mathematically, he still also has a chance to clinch the title. Raikkonen remains in fourth place with 123 points and Bottas in fifth place with 111 points, with just four races left in the season, these two drivers are out of the title race. Three drivers have yet to score points: Roberto Merhi, Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi.
The Constructors’ Championship standings remained unchanged after the Russian Grand Prix, but Mercedes has effectively clinched the title. With 531 points, Mercedes has a 172 point lead over second place Ferrari. With just four races left in the season, if Mercedes drivers finished 1-2 in all four remaining races, they would garner 172 points and tie with Mercedes. But this seems unlikely. Williams-Mercedes remained in third place with 220 points, but is effectively out of the title race. Only one team has yet to score any points this season, Marussia-Ferrari.
Full Race Results
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:37:11.024s
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +5.953s
- Sergio Perez (Force India-Mercedes) +28.918s
- Felipe Massa (Williams-Mercedes) +38.831s
- Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull-Renault) +47.566s
- Felipe Nasr (Sauber-Ferrari) +56.508s
- Pastor Maldonado (Lotus-Mercedes) +1:01.088s
- Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +1:12.358s
- Jenson Button (McLaren-Honda) +1:19.467s
- Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso-Renault) +1:28.424s
- Fernando Alonso (McLaren-Honda) +1:31.210s
- Valtteri Bottas (Williams-Mercedes) retired, lap 52
- Roberto Merhi (Marussia-Ferrari) +1 lap
- Will Stevens (Marussia-Ferrari) +2 laps
- Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull-Renault) retired, lap 47
Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso-Renault) retired, lap 45
Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Mercedes) retired, lap 11
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) retired, lap 7
Nico Hülkenberg (Force India-Mercedes) retired, lap 0
Marcus Ericsson (Sauber-Ferrari) retired, lap 0