Race Report: Hamilton wins Russian GP, Mercedes wins title

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With a victory at the Russian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has now surpassed his childhood hero, Ayrton Senna, with 42 victories. The 2-time champ seems to be putting the final touches on his third world championship after teammate, Nico Rosberg, suffered a throttle issue leaving him with a DNF for Sunday’s race. Lewis had some rear-wing niggles but nothing that could stop him from taking the top step of the podium just ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Force India’s Sergio Perez.

Hamilton Russian GP podium win

Mercedes has now clinched the Constructor’s Championship thanks to a post-race penalty for Kimi Raikkonen who clashed with Williams F1 driver and fellow Fin, Valtteri Bottas on the final lap. Raikkonen limped home in 5th but was handed a 3-place penalty to finish 8th.

The surprise of the race may be the beneficiary of that Finnish Fling in the form of Force India’s Sergio Perez who sluiced his way through the Finnish carnage and claimed the final podium step giving the team a desperately needed third place and more importantly, big points which equals cash. It also gives some hope in closing in on 4th in the Constructor’s Championship.

WinWin

A big win for Lewis who moved ahead of Ayrton Senna in total wins and now sits equal with rival Sebastian Vettel at 42. Mercedes also clinched its second world Constructor’s Championship title with Lewis’s victory and Kimi Raikkonen’s penalty.

Hamilton Russia Mercedes title 2015

A huge win for Force India who hasn’t seen a podium since 2014 and proved once again just how good Perez is at tire management as well as race craft. The Mexican will head to his home grand prix in a few weeks a real hero.

A win for hometown hero Daniil Kvyat who drove a measured and tidy race to finish 5th at his home race. It’s also a win for the man just ahead of him in 4th as Felipe Mass had a nice recovery drive and benefitted from his teammate’s circumstances to claim 4th.

A win for McLaren Honda, while benefitting from attrition in the race, claimed two points-scoring positions—initially as Alonso was penalized dropping him out of the points.

A win for Roberto Mehri who replaced Alexander Rossi and bested teammate Will Stevens, just as Rossi had done, on his return to the seat at Manor Marussia.

Finally, it was a win for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari to claim second with their fourth podium in a row and with Nico Rosberg’s DNF, they also take over second place in the driver’s title race.

A big win for Sauber’s Felipe Nasr who scored points and drove and excellent race to preserve tires and manage his pace. Great job given Ericsson was collected and out on lap one.

A win for Carlos Sainz who managed to race on Sunday after that 46g crash in FP3. He was looking great all race until a brake failure ended it to soon.

FailFail

Mercedes reliability has been bullet-proof on average but there have been a few issues this year and mainly at the hands of Nico Rosberg who suffered a throttle problem. It’s difficult in F1 but when you’re trying to battle for the title, it doesn’t help when these things happen. Nico looked unhappy, as anyone would be, and I wonder just how long he is for the world at Mercedes given he just can’t seem to get a leg up on Lewis Hamilton. He now knows what it is like to be in Rubens Barrichello’s shoes—is it better to be a number two at Mercedes or a number one at a lower-performing team?

A fail for Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who felt his incident with Bottas was just a racing deal but clearly the Fin wasn’t going to be able to make that passing opportunity stick. It has raised comments about being daft and trying a no-win situation versus the inevitable Senna comment about not taking a chance when you see it and how that means you aren’t a real racer. Regardless, the stewards weren’t impressed handing him a 3-place penalty.

A fail for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who entered this weekend with only a point difference between he and teammate Sergio Perez. Hulk spun on turn two and ended his race lodged on the side of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber ending both of their races. Perez’s podium now moves him 10 points clear of Hulk.

Romain Grosjean also get a fail for his spin at turn three. Thankfully he is ok because that was a big shunt.

WTHWTH

Not a lot of WTH moments but surely the Finnish Fling between Raikkonen and Bottas was worthy as was the turn two spin for Hulk as well as perhaps the penalty for Alonso for cutting the chicane after being warned spoiling a dual-points finish.

Hamilton russia grid girls

Perhaps you could argue the hats on the podium ceremony were a bit of a WTH but who am I to judge Russian Haute Couture? However, the handshake with Vlad Putin after the race were a little awkward. Lewis was congenial but Vettel seemed a little wary of the horse-riding shirtless president. It looked like Vladimir was enjoying the race and seemed genuinely convivial even sitting with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for the start of the race. Good for him, he’s put a lot of cash behind this race and will now possibly light it up for the night race in 2017.

Results

PosDriverCar/EngineLapsTime/Delay
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes531h 37:11.024
2Sebastian VettelFerrari535.953
3Sergio PérezForce India/Mercedes5328.918
4Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes5338.831
5Daniil KvyatRed Bull/Renault5347.566
6Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari5356.508
7Pastor MaldonadoLotus/Mercedes531:01.088
8Kimi RäikkönenFerrari531:12.358
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda531:19.467
10Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Renault531:28.424
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda531:31.210
12Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes52Collision
13Roberto MerhiMarussia/Ferrari521 Lap
14Will StevensMarussia/Ferrari512 Laps
15Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault47Suspension
Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault45Brakes
Romain GrosjeanLotus/Mercedes11Spun off
Nico RosbergMercedes7Throttle
Nico HülkenbergForce India/Mercedes0Collision
Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari0Collision

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT for final results.

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The Captain

Honestly I can’t even talk about the race because NBC made me so mad. This was a new low for NBC (how many times can I say that?) On top of them, during the race, showing me a package about Lee Diffy getting to call the bobsled at the Olympics that they had to interrupt almost at the end of it because of Grosjean’s wreck, and then showing the whole damn package over again to make up for cutting away from it, there was this awful mess. On lap 38 NBC went to commercials for 2 min 30 sec (including… Read more »

Negative Camber

The frustration seems to be mounting for American fans with each passing race. I’m not sure why production is what it is because that’s where the broadcast is won and lost. I thought running the Sanki Sliding center piece of Leigh’s twice was really a bit OTT and the commercials are a way of life there but coming back out of commercials into features and other NBC broadcast promotions is tough to handle.

Also, the split screen during break was on both safety car periods and that could have been used for live action instead.

The Captain

What grinds my gears is NBC can do a broadcast with fewer commercial, they already do it for the Premier League every week. Sure they probably couldn’t go to that extreme (it might be possible), but they could surely change their ad pricing structure to keep the same revenue with less commercial blocks. But as you rightly say even now they could better use the split screen when there is racing going on, not safety cars. That just kinda says they don’t care. And all these packages that they feel the need to run coming out of commercial should be… Read more »

charlie white

I totally agree with you! NBC set a new low on this particular broadcast. I was watching it along with the SkySports TV feed on my computer, which lately has become harder with every quasi-legal streaming site engaged in war against ad-blockers. I switched over the identical commercial-free HD world feed on Spanish language Galavision, turned the sound down and kept up to date using Twitter. And the American audience heard nothing about Alonso’s “sense of humor” radio call!

Samouri

SPEED channel I thought was terrible, but this bunch at NBC have sunk to a new low with their placement and amount of commercial breaks, during a race, which can be infuriating.. I don’t particularly like Steve Matchett, because of a really outrageous attack that he made against Hamilton during the 2011 Korean GP, but realize that he’s an important addition, whose mechanical and technical knowledge is of great help to the average viewer. David Hobbs, well how can you dislike the humorous commentary of The Klagman.

Junipero Mariano

How much money is FOM losing out on by simply offering even one alternative to US fans?

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

The NBC coverage is beyond frustrating at times. I will give credit where it is due. I did NOT hear about Verstappen and his age much, if at all. I did get reminded Sainz Jr was 21 a little much though.

MIE

Pass: the earlier Finnish battle when Kimi passed Valteri into turn four, put was re-passed on the way out.
Donkey: Sainz, continuing after his first spin which resulted from front brake failure at sufficient speed to spin off again dropping debris on the track.
Drive: Perez

adaptable1

George Costanaza hats for the podium! Lots of excitement on the last couple of laps. Well done Checo for managing the tires capitalizing on the Ferrari and Williams error. No surprises at the front…except maybe the hats.

adaptable1
Paul KieferJr

….and a big WTH for letting Eddie Jordan do the podium interviews.

Junipero Mariano

Eddie Jordan’s probably beat the hell out of George Lucas’ interview (which I didn’t see) and made more sense than an Italian(???) horse jockey at the British GP (which I did see).

I did chuckle a bit with whole “RISING FROM THE ASHES OF TEAM JORDAN” line.

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

Seriously? EJ is the best at it besides Martin Brundle or Jackie Stewart. I’ll take either every race over the celebrity stuff.