2016 RUSSIAN GP: NICO WINS AGAIN, VETTEL OUT AGAIN


Nico Rosberg scored a controlled fourth victory from four races at the Russian Grand Prix in front of a crowd of 60,000 at the Sochi Autodrom, as Sebastian Vettel was dumped out of the race at the start following a collision with local hero Daniil Kvyat.

Starting from pole the championship leader led into Turn 2 but behind him there was drama as Vettel, who had started seventh, was hit from behind by Kvyat who had been eighth on the grid. The collision bounced Vettel sideways where he collided with the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who had started from P5. All three managed to continue but within moments Kvyat again ran into the back of Vettel as the pair went into Turn 3. This time Vettel was pitched into the barrier and Kvyat lost his front wing.

The Safety Car was deployed and while a furious Vettel was left to make his way back to the paddock at the controls of scooter, Red Bull pitted both its drivers, with Kvyat taking a new nose cone and with both being put on medium tyres.

The strategic gambit was in vain, however. Kvyat was handed a 10-second stop/go penalty for causing a collision and failed to recover. Ricciardo, meanwhile, struggled for pace and battled a damaged. He would eventually shed his medium tyres on lap 29, though the improved pace would only take him to P11 at the flag.

The early chaos did benefit some, however. Lewis Hamilton, 10th on the grid after power unit trouble in qualifying, made a good start and avoided the incident to climb to fifth place behind by the time the Safety Car was deployed.

When racing resumed Hamilton went on a charge and passed Williams’ Felipe Massa and third-placed Kimi Raikkonen to take P3 behind Valtteri Bottas in the other Williams. The Finn defended bravely, however, and as Hamilton and Raikkonen remained bottled up behind the Williams, Rosberg established a solid gap at the front and by lap 15 the German was 9.2 seconds ahead of Bottas.

Bittas pitted on the next lap, freeing up Hamilton and Raikkonen. Hamilton made his own stop for soft tyres on the next lap and though Bottas was able to keep the champion at bay when the Mercedes man emerged from pit lane alongside him, he could do nothing on lap 19 when Hamilton used his greater pace and DRS to muscle past down the inside of Turn 2.

Controlling matters at the front, Rosberg eked out a long stint of 21 laps on his starting supersofts before pitting for softs on lap 21. He emerged with a healthy gap of 12 seconds back to second-placed Hamilton, but midway through the final stint Hamilton began to push, eventually narrowing the gap to 7.7s.

Any hopes Hamilton had of a late assault were undone, however, when his pit wall informed him that his car had a water pressure issue. The champion back off and from running up to six tenths of a second quicker than Rosberg, Hamilton suddenly dropped to a second off the German’s pace. The race was over as a contest. Rosberg controlled matters as Hamilton nursed his Mercedes to the flag and Raikkonen cruised to a lonely third.

Behind the podium positions, Bottas finished fourth for Williams ahead of team-mate Massa, while Fernando Alonso took an excellent sixth place and eight points for McLaren. Kevin Magnussen took Renault’s first points of the season with seventh place, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjena and Force India’s Sergio Perez. McLaren’s positive day was enhanced by Jenson Button taking the final point in tenth place.

RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX, SOCHI
53 laps, 304.356 km., Weather: Sunny.
CLASSIFIED:
 P.     DRIVER           TEAM         TIME    
 1. Nico Rosberg      Mercedes AMG 1h32:41.997
 2. Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes AMG  +   25.022
 3. Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari       +   31.998
 4. Valtteri Bottas   Williams      +   50.217
 5. Felipe Massa      Williams      + 1:14.427
 6. Fernando Alonso   McLaren       +    1 lap
 7. Kevin Magnussen   Renault       +    1 lap
 8. Romain Grosjean   Haas          +    1 lap
 9. Sergio Perez      Force India   +    1 lap
10. Jenson Button     McLaren       +    1 lap
11. Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull      +    1 lap
12. Carlos Sainz JR.  Toro Rosso*   +    1 lap
13. Jolyon Palmer     Renault       +    1 lap
14. Marcus Ericsson   Sauber        +    1 lap
15. Daniil Kvyat      Red Bull      +    1 lap
16. Felipe Nasr       Sauber**      +    1 lap
17. Esteban Gutierrez Haas          +    1 lap
18. Pascal Wehrlein   Manor         +   2 laps

* Sainz recieved a 10-second time penalty
for forcing another driver off the track.
** Nasr recieved a 5-second time penalty
for not respecting the race director's instructions.

2014: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1h51:43.021
2015: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG - 1h37:11.024

Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg - 1:39.094             

Not Classified:                                  
Max Verstappen       Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel     Ferrari
Nico Hulkenberg      Force India
Rio Haryanto         Manor


After 4 Races:                
Drivers:                     Constructors:       
 1. Nico Rosberg      100   1. Mercedes AMG  157
 2. Lewis Hamilton     57   2. Ferrari        76
 3. Kimi Raikkonen     43   3. Red Bull       57
 4. Daniel Ricciardo   36   4. Williams       51
 5. Sebastian Vettel   33   5. Haas           22
 6. Felipe Massa       32   6. Toro Rosso     17
 7. Romain Grosjean    22   7. McLaren        10
 8. Daniil Kvyat       21   8. Force India     8
 9. Valtteri Bottas    19   9. Renault         6
10. Max Verstappen     13
11. Fernando Alonso     8
12. Kevin Magnussen     6
13. Nico Hulkenberg     6
14. Carlos Sainz JR.    4
15. Sergio Perez        2
16. Jenson Button       1
17. Stofel Vandorne     1