Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Hamilton wins inaugural Russian GP

Published:Monday | October 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain gestures on the podium after winning as Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) applauds on the podium during the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom Formula One circuit in Sochi, Russia, yesterday. AP

SOCHI, Russia (AP): Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix yesterday, leading a one-two finish for Mercedes that clinched their first Formula One constructors' title and stretched his lead in the championship.

Nico Rosberg placed second despite having to pit early in the race, but now trails his teammate by 17 points in the drivers' standings, with three races remaining.

Hamilton, who was fastest in practice and qualifying, won his fourth straight race and his ninth of the season. He was presented the winner's trophy by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had pushed for his country to have a Formula One race.

"We've had an amazing week, Russia's been so good to me," Hamilton said from the podium.

"It was kind of surreal for the president to be presenting the award," he added later.

The British driver started from pole, but lost the lead when Rosberg beat him to the first corner. But Rosberg had to brake hard, ruined his tyres, cut a corner and was then told by his team to let Hamilton back into the lead because he had gained an unfair advantage.

Rosberg replied: "I have to box because of the vibrations."

After pitting to change tyres, he was told by the team he'd have to go the rest of the race on that set.

Taking the flag

Hamilton took the flag 13.6 seconds ahead of Rosberg. Valtteri Bottas was third in a Williams, 17.4 seconds back.

"I was looking after the tyres, managing the fuel, it was pretty straightforward," Hamilton said. "I really enjoyed the race and Russia has been one of my favourite races."

Hamilton became only the fourth driver in Formula One history to win nine races in a season. He equalled Nigel Mansell's record of 31 victories for a British driver. The other three with nine or more wins in a season were Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Mansell.

Rosberg said he was angry at himself for making the mistake.

"It was unnecessary. I braked too hard, too late. The tyres were square. I thought that was the end of the day for me," the German said. "But the other half of me is so happy for the team, we are dominating the sport now."

Bottas kept close to Hamilton until he began to lose pace about a third into the race.

"The rear tyres started to lose pace and then Nico got me, I didn't expect him to come from inside in turn one," the Finn said.