Formula 1 turned to Russia this weekend for the inaugural race at Sochi, home to the Winter Olympics earlier this year.
With only a few days separating Russia from the previous race in Japan all thoughts were with the friends and family of Jules Bianchi, who suffered a horrific crash at Suzuka and remains in hospital in a stable but critical position.
Mercedes once again topped qualifying with Lewis Hamilton taking the pole, narrowly pipping team-mate Nico Rosberg to the elusive starting spot. Valtteri Bottas followed in his Williams with the McLaren of Jenson Button in fourth.
Daniil Kvyat produced a stunning lap to line up fifth on the grid for Toro Rosso, upping his game considerably and really proving that the young Russian deserves his place at Red Bull next season where he will replace four time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Before the race began a tribute was held to Bianchi.
Both Mercedes cars got off to a strong start, Rosberg attempting to take the lead. But a lock up proved a costly mistake for the German as he was forced to take the run-off area, give up the place for Hamilton and then pit for a new set of tyres.
Rosberg had a huge job on his hands to climb up places but there was no way he would be able to give Hamilton a run for his money and contend for the win. Rosberg did in fact manage the rest of the race on his new set of tyres as the Russian track did not give way to much tyre degradation.
Unsurprisingly Hamilton went on to take the win, his ninth of the season, with Rosberg incredibly lucky to secure second. At any other track it is without doubt that the tyres would not have lasted for so long.
Bottas took third, and the fastest lap of the race. He was clearly a little disappointed as Williams had been hoping that Rosberg would run out off steam on his tyres but it was not to be.
The McLaren’s performed very well with Button in fourth and Kevin Magnussen close on his heels in fifth. With all the gossip of drivers moving teams around the paddock the latest news is that McLaren will likely hire Fernando Alonso whilst Ferrari take on Vettel, potentially leaving Button without a drive next season.
Alonso finished sixth with both Red Bulls behind, seeming to struggle a little on track. Kvyat had a poor race following his exceptional qualifying performance and only managed a 14th place finish, behind team-mate Jean Eric Vergne who is currently without a drive for 2015.
It was undoubtedly a very tough week for the Marussia team who made the decision to race only Max Chilton’s car, leaving Bianchi’s in the garage. Unfortunately the team suffered another blow as Chilton was forced to retire after hope that they would bring the car safely home for Jules.
Mercedes Clinch Constructor’s
It was a celebratory end to the weekend for Mercedes as they retained enough points to have seen off all competition to win the constructor’s championship, the first in the team’s history. It was a quiet occasion at the garage as all thoughts remained with Bianchi and the Marussia team. Hamilton went on to dedicate his win to the Frenchman.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) October 13, 2014
Hamilton still leads the championship, now by 17 points to nearest contender Rosberg. There are still three more races left this season, and double points awarded in the final race of Abu Dhabi, so it is still possible for either of the Mercedes drivers to take the title and it will likely be the conclusive race that is the championship decider.
The next race takes place in three weeks’ time over in Austin, Texas where Vettel won in 2013 but it looks unlikely that his Red Bull will take the win this season. Money will probably be on Hamilton.
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