Russian Grand Prix: Hamilton dominates as Mercedes secure championship

Lewis Hamilton celebrates Russian win, Rebecca O'Rourke, Kettle Mag
Written by Rebecca Rose

The Russian Grand Prix came to a heart-stopping close on Sunday with collisions, retirements and last minute podium grabbing.

After a disappointing retirement from pole sitter Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton maintained the lead throughout the race to take first place with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel behind him with, for only the second time in his career, Sergio Perez of Force India.

A tussle in the final lap where Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen collided with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas earned the Ferrari driver a 30 second penalty and in the process gifted Mercedes with a victory for 2015’s Constructor’s Championship.

Scuffs from the start

There was close shaves from the start however, as the safety car made it’s first ever appearance in Sochi as early as lap 1 this year. Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg spun out, colliding with Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber and pushing Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso into the pits early due to left rear damage in the process.

Despite not making the cut for the podium, Räikkönen grabbed a great start over his sluggish team-mate which set him up for a good race.

Though it appeared from the start Rosberg was continuing his stellar performances from the three practices and qualifying earlier in the weekend, his success was short-lived as by lap 7, Mercedes team-mate Hamilton had pushed past and took the dominant position of first that he’s become ever so familiar with this year.

It then didn’t take long before Bottas’ Williams was far too close for comfort, overtaking Rosberg as he slid down the ranks before coming into the pits.

Over a year since he suffered a classified retirement, throttle errors were the German’s downfall forcing him to hop out of the car and out of the race, leaving his team-mate to push him further back in the championship.

“It’s not nice when there’s a problem with the throttle peddle, in the end I had to lift my complete leg off the pedal,” Rosberg explained. “I’m just disappointed with today and I’ll think about the rest afterwards.”

Pushing and Shoving

Lap 12 saw the Lotus of Romain Grosjean also encounter trouble as he hurdled into the barrier after slipping and sliding out of control. This forced a very long safety car, shaking up pit strategy.


The time behind the safety car likely left the drivers with fingers twitching as from the moment the safety car pulled in there were battles across the track.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz earned himself a 5 second penalty in his haste for crossing the line at pit entry, but despite this he managed to drive spectacularly into the points from the back of the grid after colliding with the barrier in yesterdays qualifying. A spin out left him in the barrier again however, this time with less damage but still prematurely ending his race.

Manor once again occupied the back of the race slipping significantly behind the other drivers, (at 20+ second gap halfway through the race) but the promise of Mercedes engines in the future likely softens the blow and the lack of points.

McLaren on the other hand still struggled with their engine, unable to defend successfully. 

A fight ‘til the very end

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas and Räikkönen stole the show though, performing a nail biting battle between the three of them; pushing and shoving until the very end.

Slightly ahead it was an initially quiet yet consistent performance from Perez, gliding through to third without anyone really noticing at first. With 10 laps to go it was a matter of holding on to the tyres for dear life for the Mexican, fighting back the Australian and two Finns respectively.

Laps continued with the three battling for the final spot on the podium. Bottas shuffled ahead of Ricciardo on lap 45 which threatened Perez and allowed the Finn to stretch his legs and go all out.

Red Bull drama from the week slightly overshadowed Ricciardo’s exciting performance however, as we were once again reminded that the team are not where they need to be. Mechanical issues troubled the Australian just short of the last lap, making the many fought battles in this race somewhat redundant as he was forced to retire.

With one lap to go the two Finns pushed ahead of Perez in the space of one corner, making the Force India celebrations seemingly come to a close after a spectacular fight.

However Bottas flew off of the track and into the barrier due to the Ferrari colliding with him. Naturally Bottas was angry as Räikkönen limped off leaving Perez to regain his places and take third on the podium.

“With one lap to go, when Valtteri (Bottas) and Kimi (Raikkonen) passed me, it felt like this result had been taken from us: I was obviously disappointed but I also knew I had given all I could during the race,” said Perez.

“When I finally managed to get back into third it was just an amazing feeling. I am happy I was able to share this second podium with my team,”

The risky yet exciting stunt that worked in Perez’ favour, cost Bottas the chance of points, gave Räikkönen a 30 second penalty and as a result handed Mercedes the constructors championship for 2015.

Hamilton dominated at the front for most of the race, not under any real threat from the other drivers. Despite suffering some issues at the end of the race, the Silver Arrow glided to the top step on the podium once again, leaving Rosberg far behind in the drivers standings.

What did you think of Sunday’s race? Have your say in the comments section below.