Third world title at hand for Hamilton
The Russian GP did not start well as it was marred by yet another serious crash that raised more safety concerns. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz miraculously managed to escape serious injury after he lost control during final practice and crashed into the TecPro barriers, which instead of stopping the racer, flew into the air and came crashing back onto him. Sainz was discharged on Saturday evening and still managed to race on Sunday, despite some dizziness.
It was an easy win for Lewis Hamilton at the Sochi circuit, and he moved even closer to his third world championship. Hamilton was actually behind his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, when the German’s throttle acted up, forcing him to retire; making things worse for Rosberg was when Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took second place and passed him in the drivers’ standings.
Hamilton now only needs nine more points than Vettel and two more than Rosberg to secure the championship, which means that if he is victorious in the upcoming USA GP and Vettel doesn’t come in second, the title is his. Despite Rosberg having to drop out of the race, Hamilton’s 25 points was enough to help Mercedes seal a back-to-back constructors’ title win.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who was in the stands, was witness to an incident-packed race. The second safety period began on lap 13, after a high-speed crash involving Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, which caused teams to take different tyre strategies. It was too early for an ideal one pit-stop strategy, so several drivers took the risk of stopping for tyres and stretching them to the end; the stops were led by Force India’s Sergio Perez, followed by Ricciardo and then others. Raikkonen stopped 18 laps after Perez.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Raikkonen past Perez on the penultimate lap, quickly demoting him to fifth place. But Raikkonen collided with Bottas on the final lap while trying to make a desperate attempt for third. The damage on the Williams forced Bottas to retire as Raikkonen struggled to the finish line, with sparks flying, to take fifth. Perez reclaimed the third place at end of the race. Ferrari would have had enough points to stay in contention for the constructors’ championship, but Raikkonen was later penalised and demoted to eighth.