By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer
Nico Rosberg flattened the field again en route to his 7th race win in a row across two seasons and his 18th Formula 1 victory. The win at the Russian Grand Prix was the 4th in a row for Rosberg this year. He now has a perfect, 100 points for the season, which amounts to a 43 point lead over teammate and three time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg finds himself in rare company! With 7 wins in a row, Rosberg ties Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher for the second longest win streak in Formula 1 history. Sebastian Vettel holds the record with 9 consecutive wins in 2013. If Rosberg were to tie Vettel for consecutive wins, it would take place in Monaco, his home track. Rosberg’s 7 wins in a row is more than his father Keke Rosberg had in his entire career.
Rosberg also completed his first ” Grand Slam”, which in F1 consists of pole winner, race winner, fastest lap, and every lap led.
Truly, Rosberg is on a remarkable roll.
Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton again experienced power unit issues which eliminated him from participating in Q3 and placing him 10th on the grid for the race start. Hamilton drove a fantastic race, quickly moving through the field and cutting into Rosberg’s lead at the mid point before a water pressure issue caused him to slow down to insure his second place finish.
The final podium position was occupied by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who jumped Valtteri Bottas on pit strategy and was able to maintain 3rd place for the Scuderia.
Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel was not so fortunate.
Vettel was again eliminated after an ugly scuffle with Russian wonderkid Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat bumped Vettel twice in the second and third corners of the opening lap. The second punt was hard enough to toss Vettel around and into the barriers, ending his race.
Vettel was incensed, letting lose a warranted string of expletives worthy of a salty sea pirate. While Vettel backed off placing blame on Kvyat after seeing the contact in China, the blast in Russia is being put squarely on the young Russian. Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene described Vettel as going “ballistic” after his second DNF of the season.
From Kyat’s point of view, Vettel slowed unexpectedly in the high speed third corner. Kvyat accepted that the opening lap catastrophe was his to shoulder and that he would have some explaining to do to Vettel. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has already paved the way for Kvyat, offering an apology to Vettel, his former champion.
Red Bull Racing suffered from the opening lap debacle with Daniel Ricciardo also getting caught up in the Kvyat mess and placing 11th. Ricciardo suffered damage to the floor and sidepod when Vettel bumped him after getting punted by Kvyat in turn 2. Kvyat ended his home race a forgettable 15th, suffered a 10 second stop and go penalty, and will be a topic of discussion for the two weeks leading into Barcelona.
Behind the Kvyat incident and also in turn 2, Esteban Gutierrez triggered a collision that ended the race for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Manor’s Rio Haryanto. The Sauber of Marcus Ericsson was also involved in the opening lap melee, but was able to continue, eventually bring home the Sauber in 14th.
So all in all, a messy first lap in Russia.
On the racing end, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa brought the Williams cars home in 4th and 5th position respectively. Bottas had the pace to race ahead of Raikkonen but lost his potential podium when Raikkonen lasted longer on the initial set of tires and was faster getting in and out of the pitlane. The strong showing by Williams placed them squarely into the constructors battle with Red Bull and Ferrari.
McLaren again showed slow improvement with both cars coming home in the points. Fernando Alonso was well within the top 10 throughout the entire race, finishing a solid 6th, while Jenson Button worked his way into the 10th, and final, points paying position. Slow and steady wins the race and McLaren is absolutely moving in the right direction.
Kevin Magnussen brought Renault their first points as a renewed constructor placing 7th in front of Romain Grosjean who again scored points for Haas F1 Team. Sergio Perez took 9th position for Force India.
Formula 1 now concludes the opening stint of flyaway races and will head to the familiar surroundings of Barcelona, Spain as the traditional summer stint begins. Mercedes has a massive, greater than comfortable lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship; owning 157 points while Ferrari have 76.
That’s 81 points between the top 2 teams after only 4 races.
Hate to call it this early, but game over for the Constructors’ race!
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/TAG Heuer|
|12||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/TAG Heuer|
|–||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Ferrari|
|–||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes|