Lewis Hamilton took complete control of the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, dominating from the Friday practice sessions.
Indeed, the only session he didn’t top was Free Practice 1, and even then he was only 0.65 seconds behind his teammate, Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton took pole position by over three tenths from Rosberg, for an all-Mercedes front row. Valtteri Bottas lined up third in his Williams, alongside McLaren’s Jenson Button in fourth.
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat put in his best qualifying performance of the season so far with fifth ahead of the second McLaren of Kevin Magnussen.
Red Bull had a tough session, Daniel Ricciardo only managing seventh, while reigning champion Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make the top ten shootout.
The two Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were eighth and ninth; Jean-Eric Vergne made it two Toro Rossos in the top ten.
As the race got underway, Rosberg briefly drew level with Hamilton on the run down to Turn 2, the first proper corner on the Sochi circuit. But he out-braked himself and locked-up the front wheels, forcing him to take to the escape road.
Rosberg re-entered the track in the lead, but was ordered to give the place back. He needed to come in for fresh tyres anyway, and rejoined at the back of the field.
While Rosberg battled his way back through, Hamilton set about building a comfortable lead. As the pit stops cycled through, Rosberg worked his way up behind Bottas, running in second. He made his move at Turn 2, and stayed in second until the end.
Hamilton held the gap at 20 seconds or so. Rosberg put in a couple of quick laps, but Hamilton immediately responded, setting the fastest lap of the race. Point made.
By winning the race, Hamilton equals Nigel Mansell’s record for the most wins by a British driver – 31.
Button held onto fourth after a battle with Alonso. The Spaniard was delayed in the pits, which allowed Magnussen past. Ricciardo challenged Alonso in the closing stages, but couldn’t find a path through.
Daniil Kvyat, with a 2015 contract with the main Red Bull in his hand, couldn’t hold on to the pace at the front and faded to 14th place at the finish.
With their one-two finish, Mercedes secures the Manufacturers’ Championship with three races remaining. Hamilton extends his lead in the Drivers’ standings to 17 points.
Hamilton dedicated his win to Jules Bianchi. The Marussia driver is still in a critical but stable condition after suffering a serious head injury in a crash with a circuit vehicle at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Bianchi’s team and the drivers held a tribute to the 25 year-old Frenchman on the grid before the start of the race.
Next up is the United States Grand Prix on 2 November.
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Russian Grand Prix results after 53 laps
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 1h31m50.744s
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — +13.657s
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +17.425s
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Mercedes — +30.234s
- Kevin Magnussen — McLaren-Mercedes — +53.616s
- Fernando Alonso — Ferrari — +1m00.016s
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — +1m01.812s
- Sebastian Vettel — Red Bull-Renault — +1m06.185s
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — +1m18.877s
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +1m20.067s
- Felipe Massa — Ferrari — 1m20.877s
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — +m21.309s
- Jean-Eric Vergne — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1m37.295s
- Daniil Kvyat — Toro Rosso-Renault — +1 lap
- Esteban Gutierrez — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Adrian Sutil — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
- Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Renault — +1 lap
- Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Renault — +1 lap
- Marcus Ericsson — Caterham-Renault — +2 laps
Non-finishers: Kamui Kobayashi — Caterham-Renault (Brakes); Max Chilton — Marussia-Ferrari (Suspension)