Mercedes have won the Formula One Constructor’s championship after their drivers finished first and second in the first Russian Grand Prix in a hundred years. Both drivers had completely different races; whilst Lewis Hamilton led the race from start to finish, his team mate Nico Rosberg had to fight from the back of the pack after pitting in the first lap.
Rosberg started in second behind his team mate, but locked up as he tried to overtake Hamilton in the second corner of the first lap. He pitted at the end of the first lap in a race that was only expected to be a one stop, coming out in twentieth position (out of twenty one). He then went on to drive the rest of the race on the same set of tyres and managed overtake almost the entire grid to get back into second.
Rosberg said that he was “taking it easy on the tyres, because I knew I had to stay out for that [the strategy]to work.”*
In comparison, Felipe Massa of Williams was the only other driver to pit at the same time as Rosberg, but had to change his tyres again twenty six laps later due to tyre degradation. Though Rosberg was complaining about his tyres at one point, when asked on lap 40 if he thought they would last until the end of the race, Rosberg replied “Yes, easy! Well, not easy but they feel good for now.”*
This was the ninth one two for the Mercedes team this season, only one off of the record (held by McLaren). This is the first constructor’s title won by the team and both driver’s congratulated the team on their work.
Niki Lauda, non-executive chairman of the Formula One works team for Mercedes, said it was “unbelievable”*.
The driver’s championship is still up for grabs, with both Mercedes drivers being the only ones with a realistic chance of winning. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is still mathematically in the running, but even his team principle has admitted that it’s unrealistic to hope for his winning the title. Rosberg and Hamilton have been dominating the entire season, but going into the final three races, Hamilton is ahead of his team mate. When asked if the British driver was “unstoppable”, Lauda replied “Yes… kind of.”*
Elsewhere in the race, Williams driver Valtteri Bottas finished third, and set the fastest lap of the race (1m40.896s). Bottas said, “I need to be happy for us as a team. What we have been doing since last year is amazing. We were the best of the rest. We did the best we could from where we started so we need to be happy for the team.”*
Minor contact between Romain Grosjean and Adrian Sutil led to Sutil spinning, and Grosjean was given a five second stop go penalty for the incident. The only retirements were due to mechanical faults (Kobayashi of Caterham and Chilton of Marussia).
A week after the tragic accident in Japan that has left Jules Bianchi fighting for his life in hospital, the race began with a minuet’s silence. Marussia, Bianchi’s team, decided to only race one car this weekend, as a mark of respect for their driver. Other races of the weekend saw the safety car out for every incident in which a car stopped on or at the side of the track, though it was not necessary in the F1 race.
*Quotes taken from Sky Sports F1 race coverage