Hamilton wins as Mercedes seal team title
LEWIS Hamilton reeled off his fourth consecutive victory to extend his lead in the Formula One drivers' title race and secure Mercedes' maiden triumph in the constructors' championship yesterday when he won the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in emphatic fashion.
The 29-year-old Briton, starting from his 38th pole position, cruised to the 31st success of his career to draw level with fellow-Englishman Nigel Mansell in the record books. He finished the race 13.657 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate and nearest title rival, German Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton's win lifted him 17 points clear of Rosberg, who made a mistake on the opening lap and, after a pit stop, recovered from the back of the field.
Hamilton now has 291 points to Rosberg's 274 with just three races remaining.
Just a week after Jules Bianchi's life-threatening accident in the storm-hit Japanese Grand Prix, where the French driver suffered severe head injuries, the race was preceded by tributes to support his fight for his life in a hospital in Yokkaichi.
Hamilton's win was his ninth this year and the result delivered Mercedes' ninth one-two of the season as they ended Red Bull's four-year dominance of the teams' crown. They will now aim to beat McLaren's record of 10 wins set in 1988.
Finn Valtteri Bottas finished third for Williams ahead of Briton Jenson Button and his McLaren team-mate, Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen. Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Spain finished sixth for Ferrari after an inspired, but troubled, drive.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Red Bull, ahead of departing German team-mate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Finn Kimi Raikkonen, in the second Ferrari. Mexican Sergio Perez was 10th for Sauber.
"Congratulations to the team on the constructors' championship - history in the making," said Hamilton afterwards on team radio before he and the other leading finishers met Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrived at the circuit with 14 laps remaining to preside over the podium ceremony.
"Sorry, guys," said Rosberg. "That was very unnecessary (his attack on Lap 1), but thank you for the unbelievable car that allowed me to fight back to take second."
At the off, Hamilton steered diagonally to his right to lead Rosberg towards Turn 1, a mild kink en route to Turn 2 where the German locked up under braking, as he passed inside Hamilton and ran wide across the run-off area.
For Rosberg, it was an expensive rush of blood. His journey across the brightly-coloured escape zone lifted him into the lead only briefly before his race engineer asked him to "give position back to Lewis, please".
Rosberg did so, falling to second before pitting immediately to replace his flat-spotted tyres and re-joining at the back of the field.
Fortunately, such is his talent and the superiority of his Mercedes car that he still managed to finish second.