Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes to first constructor’s title at inaugural Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton led from practically start to finish at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi to bring his Mercedes team their first constructor title with a one two with teammate Nico Rosberg.

The weekend was over-clouded by the critical but stable state of Marussia driver Jules Bianchi at a Japanese hospital after last week’s race at Suzuka. As a sign of respect the Marussia team decided to run only one car for the weekend instead of seeking a replacement as a sign of support for Bianchi and his family.

Hamilton secured pole on Saturday by two tenths of a second from teammate Nico Rosberg with Bottas third and Jenson button with the second best qualifying of the year in fourth, Daniil Kyvat put in a stunning performance to take fifth for Torro Rosso in front of his home crowd and Daniel Ricciardo out performed his teammate Sebastian Vettel yet again with sixth place on the grid.

The start of the race held memories of Spa with Nico Rosberg shooting up behind his teammate for the lead in the second phase of the start going into turn two, the move caused him to go shooting off the track as he missed his braking forcing him to give the place back to Lewis and pit at the end of the first lap as he had severely flat spotted his tyres causing severe vibrations to his car.

Fernando Alonso made a characteristically good start moving to fifth from seventh past Kyvat.

Kyvat continued to fall down the field steadily with Vettel and Ricciardo moving past him for seventh and eighth as Ricciardo lost places on the start.

The poor start by Ricciardo proved costly as he ended up behind his teammate Vettel who was causing a queue to form behind him with Ricciardo, Jean Eric Vergne and Kimi Raikkonen all fighting to pass him. Vettel did not appear to be asked to move over by the team and Ricciardo pitted at lap 12 releasing Vergne, Raikkonen and Kyvat.

Meanwhile up front Bottas was doing a good job to keep Lewis Hamilton within his sights, however it was clear that Hamilton was clearly coasting after his teammate, and championship rival’s, earlier mistake.

Marussia’s awful weekend continued with their only car of Max Chilton retiring on lap 12 after complaining of vibrations on his tyres.

Bottas had been fighting Vettel for second but as he failed to make his way through Rosberg began closing the gap to the fighting duo. Bottas was released when Vettel pitted allowing him and Rosberg to fight each other for the second step on the podium.

Unleashed by Vettel’s pit stop Rosberg made a daring move on Bottas for second down the inside of turn two which forced Bottas wide and onto the tarmac and giving Mercedes a one-two finish to dominantly secure their first constructors world championship title.

On lap thirty three Kamui Kobayashi retired from the race, and stated that he was not sure why the car was retired as he was only informed by his team that there was an issue. After the race the team stated the retirement was due to safety and the misunderstanding was simply down to a lack of communication.

At the end of the race Jenson Button in fourth was closing in on Bottas with Magnussen also running well in fifth; illustrating that McLaren’s promise on Friday was an indication of real improvement and pace. Furthermore, the fourth and fifth places for Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen whilst Perez and Hulkenberg did not score allowed McLaren to go to fifth, ahead of Force India in the World Championship.

Meanwhile home favourite Daniil Kyvat was steadily falling down the field from fifth and by lap 37 Nico Hulkenberg was sizing up the young Russian for fourteenth place. Kyvat ran wide at turn two and Hulkenberg streaked past.

Hamilton’s stunning victory in Russia both solidified Mercedes the constructors and extended his championship lead over his teammate Rosberg to seventeen points with only three races to go.  Going into the Circuit of the Americas in Austin this weekend, a track Hamilton claims is one of his favourites, the title battle has never been hotter.

As we gear up for Austin I will be releasing race recaps to  charter Lewis Hamilton’s fight back in the championship from a thirty two point deficit to a seventeen point lead in a mere matter of races.

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Sombre Mood in Sochi for Inaugural Grand Prix

Marussia announced on Friday morning before free practice one that they have decided to only run the one car, Max Chilton’s, this weekend out of respect to their driver Jules Bianchi who is still fighting for his life in a critical but stable condition in Japan. As this is Marussia first home race this is a deeply significant move.

All cars and drivers are running a message of support for Jules and it is clear that thoughts are still firmly with him. The Marussia team have built his car and it will remain on his side of the garage all weekend to illustrate that although he is not racing this weekend he is still racing on with Marussia, an incredibly poignant message of support for him and his family from the team.

1913-14 was the last time a Russian grand prix was run, and this challenging track around the Olympic park, the third longest on the calendar with 3.63m, promises to be worth the wait. The long and narrow pit lane could provide some excitement through the race if there is traffic in the pit lane.

Nico Rosberg put in the first timed lap of the Sochi Olympic park track with a 1.45.186 having come out early and practised his starts. Hamilton then quickly put in a quicker time by only a few hundredths of a second despite a slight vibration on his brakes which brought him into the garage soon after.

This issue proved to be an issue that kept him in the garage for most of the practice session as the Mercedes team investigated the brakes to find the source of the issue.

Sergei Sorokin was making his Formula One debut at his home grand prix with the Sauber team in place of Estaban Gutierrez in free practice one and managed to get within four tenths of his teammate Adrian Sutil by the end of the session.

Jenson Button of McLaren shocked at the end of the first half an hour of Practice One by topping the leader board by more than a second from second place Valtteri Bottas.

It was not only Lewis Hamilton who suffered with a brake issue, as Kimi Raikkonen was also made to sit out the majority of free practice one with a brake issue that was causing oversteer and tyre graining.

With half an hour to go of Free practice one Valtteri experienced an unusual issue with his Williams as a malfunctioning tyre blanket overheated and destroyed his tyres making it unable for him to take any further part in the session.

As the session came drew to a close many drivers found themselves running off the track with lock ups a they searched for the limits, Hamilton also felt he had not fully got the most out of himself and the car as he implored his team for another flying lap sacrificing a long run lap for the opportunity to keep pushing. At the time he was in second 0.065 off his teammate Rosberg’s best time.

Classifications after Free Practice One

Rosberg Mercedes 1.42.311

Hamilton Mercedes +0.065

Button McLaren Mercedes+0.196

Alonso Ferrari +0.409

Magnussen McLaren Mercedes +0.715

Perez Force India Mercedes +0.818

Kyvat STR Renault +0.853

Raikkonen Ferrari +0.901

Vergne STR Renault +1.016

Bottas Williams Mercedes +1.231

Massa Williams Mercedes +1.430

Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Renault +1.510

Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes +1.665

Vettel Red Bull Racing Renault +2.195

Sutil Sauber Ferrari + 2.314

Maldonado Lotus Renault +2.565

Sirotkin Sauber Ferrari +2.721

Grosjean Lotus Renault +2.879

Merhi Caterham Renault +4.471

Ericsson Caterham Renault +4.611

Chilton Marussia Ferrari +4.973