The Russian Grand Prix Review: Rosberg Tightens His Grip

Our review of the 2016 Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton delivered a valiant effort in the Russian Grand Prix to climb from tenth on the grid to the second step of the podium, but it was his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg who was celebrating in Sochi after extending his lead at the top of the 2016 Formula One driver’s championship.

The German led the race from start to finish having qualified in pole position and sealed the fastest lap, going on to take the chequered flag 25-seconds ahead of Hamilton who was let down once again by reliability issues, including a water pressure issue having closed the gap to just seven seconds, something that even his victorious team mate sympathised with.

In an interview with Sky Sports after the race Rosberg said that “A straight fight with Lewis is what I’m here for because he’s the benchmark and I look ahead for when it comes. I can’t say I miss fighting with Hamilton for the win because it is awesome to win races and in the end it doesn’t matter how they come.”

Rosberg’s first ‘grand slam’

The ‘grand slam’ of pole position, fastest lap and the race victory in the Russian Grand Prix was the first of Rosberg’s career and suggests that he is currently in much better shape than his British team mate; and Hamilton believes that this could be down to the fact that a large number of his crew from last year’s championship winning season have swapped to the other side of the garage.

Hamilton said that he “doesn’t understand” why the team, who also won the Constructor’s championship, were swapped around in the winter in what Mercedes claimed to be an attempt to “improve harmony” in the garages.

“From my side of the garage we’re having a bit of a hard time” he said, “but I’ve got every bit of confidence that we’ll come good.”

While Lewis feels that his car is still in with a chance of closing down Rosberg’s lead at the top of the World Championship, one driver whose title challenge appears to be over already is Sebastian Vettel who was hit twice in two corners in his Ferrari by Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat at the Russian Grand Prix.

Bang goes Vettel’s challenge

Racing on his “home” circuit, the Russian carried too much speed into the second corner on the first lap of the race before colliding with Vettel, and this early impact resulted in a second collision at the very next corner of the circuit putting both drivers into the barriers and Vettel out of the race.

This was the second time in four races that Vettel has failed to reach the chequered flag. Kvyat went on to finish the race in 15th having been given a stop-go penalty.

The relationship between the pair was already fractious after Vettel confronted Kvyat over a “dangerous” overtake at the previous round.

After letting off steam (shall we say), over his in-car radio, Vettel returned to the pit lane and launched an attack at Red Bull boss Christian Horner over the crash, something the team boss said he “could only apologise for”, admitting that his driver was at fault for the early incident.

It is believed that the Russian driver, who attempted to phone Vettel after the German immediately left the circuit without speaking to the media, accepted his responsibility for the crash with “emotions running high” at this home race according to Horner.

While all the current controversy in the Formula One paddock seems to relate to the relationship between Vettel and Kvyat – even masking the already fractious relationship between Rosberg and Hamilton – it does take some of the gloss away from Rosberg who now leads the standings by 43-points ahead of the next round in Spain.

The Russian Grand Prix result

Nico Rosberg – Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes (+25 seconds)

Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari (+31 seconds)

Valtteri Bottas – Williams (+50 seconds)

Felipe Massa – Williams (+1 min 14 seconds)

Fernando Alonso – McLaren (+1 lap)

Kevin Magnussen – Renault (+1 lap)

Romain Grosjean – Haas (+1 lap)

The current World Championship standings

Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 100 points

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 57 points

Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 43 points

Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 36 points

Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 33 points

Felipe Massa – Williams – 32 points

Romain Grosjean – Haas – 22 points

Daniil Kvyat – Red Bull – 21 points

For more on the 2016 Formula One World Championship come back to the Euro Car Parts blog soon. We will also be covering a wide range of quality car parts and buyer guides, motoring news and advice plus guest contributions from motoring experts.