The first Formula One race held at the remarkable ‘Sochi Autodrom’ street circuit, nestled amidst the equally astonishing Winter Olympic Park in this usually quiet Black Sea resort, promised to be a real spectacle. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man instrumental in getting F1 to Russia for a reported $50 million annual fee, joined in on the celebrations in the hospitality area.
The unusually fast track was a real challenge for the drivers, who were still slowly coming to terms with the news that their colleague Jules Bianchi would not be joining them on the track anytime soon. It is clear that despite on track rivalries, news of Bianchi’s accident had hit the whole paddock very hard indeed, especially at Marussia who decided to run only one car in respect to Jules.
However, the race itself harked back to F1 of the last decade. Tyre degradation, a factor which usually spices up the racing, was not an issue in Sochi thanks to the conservative tyre choices made by Pirelli. The race was dominated by Lewis Hamilton, who it seems is destined now to achieve his second World Drivers’ Title.
That isn’t to say Hamilton had it all his own way. The start of the race was particularly interesting with Rosberg all over Hamilton’s Mercedes through turn one, before out-braking himself at turn two. Despite briefly taking the lead, Rosberg had to immediately concede first place to pit as his tyres were blistered following his lock-up at turn one.
It was a remarkable recovery drive from Nico Rosberg, who in 16th place on lap three made some hugely impressive overtakes on his way back through the field to take second place in front of the ever-present but seemingly always unlucky Valtteri Bottas, who had struggled with rear stability on the harder medium tyre.
Further down the field, both McLaren drivers impressed. Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finished fourth and fifth respectively, with Button seemingly doing all he can to retain his drive for 2015 at McLaren amidst rumours Fernando Alonso has been offered a deal to return to the team.
It was however a disappointing Sunday for Russian national icon Danil Kyvat, who was unable to convert his fifth place grid position into a good race result, finishing a lowly 14th.
No one was able to catch the dominant Hamilton, who finished nearly 20 seconds ahead of Rosberg and has now equalled Nigel Mansell’s record for the most number of victories by a British driver at 31. Few would bet against him smashing that record at the next race in Austin too, with Hamilton this year seeming increasingly more comfortable, not just with the car but with himself in the media spotlight.
Ahead of the next race in Texas in three weeks’ time it has been confirmed that the Constructors Championship has been won by Mercedes Benz, ending the four-year stranglehold Red Bull had on the crown. It seems that the Drivers’ title will go down to the wire despite Hamilton increasing his lead to 17 points, with the double points title decider in Abu Dhabi becoming increasingly more important for Nico Rosberg.
Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk