Mercedes unbeaten in Russia
4/4. 100%. That’s Mercedes’ ominous record at the Sochi Autodrom. The German team have taken victory in every single Russian Grand Prix so far.
Lewis Hamilton took pole and victory at the inaugural race in 2014. Team-mate Nico Rosberg managed to finish 2nd, despite having to make a stop at the end of the opening lap after massively locking up both his front tyres at turn 2. He did 52 laps on a set of medium tyres to make the podium. Future Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas grabbed third position in his Williams.
Hamilton and Rosberg took a win each in 2015 and 2016 as Mercedes made it 3 straight poles and 3 wins at this event. Rosberg was forced to retire in the 2015 edition after his throttle pedal broke, denying the team a 1-2.
However, last year was not as straightforward compared to the previous races. The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen locked out the front row and looked set to end Mercedes’ stranglehold of the race.
Yet, a magnificent start by Valtteri Bottas from P3 saw the Finn take the lead and held off a charging Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages to take his first Grand Prix victory and maintain his team’s perfect record at Sochi.
Perez claims a shock podium in 2015 following last lap contact between the Finns
Following a monster crash for Romain Grosjean at turn 3 on lap 11, Sergio Perez pitted in the Force India and put on soft tyres to try and go to the end. Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, who were both in the top 5, stayed out and went on a long first stint.
Both Finns came out in traffic but worked their way through and hunted down the Mexican with a couple of laps to go. Bottas made a brilliant move into T13 to take 3rd, while Raikkonen overtook Perez in the next corner to take P4. It seemed Checo’s chances of a podium had gone.
Still, there was more drama to come. Raikkonen tried a desperate, late lunge into turn 4 on the final lap on Bottas but unsurprisingly, it ended in contact between the pair. Valtteri’s race came to an end on the spot as Kimi limped home to 5th. The Ferrari driver received a 30-second penalty for his move and rightly so.
All that meant Perez got his P3 spot back and deservedly finish on the rostrum alongside Hamilton and Vettel.
Kvyat leaves Vettel fuming after two collisions
The first moment that would come into most people's minds when asked about the Russian Grand Prix is the clashes in 2016 between Daniil Kvyat and Sebastian Vettel.
It all kicked off on the opening lap as the Russian hit the rear of the German’s Ferrari heading into turn 2. Then, with Vettel going somewhat slowly in turn 3, Kvyat clouted him again and the German ended up in the wall and out of the race. Vettel was seething on the radio.
It turned out to be the Russian’s final race for the Red Bull team as he got demoted to Toro Rosso following these incidents.
There has been race ending incidents at turn two in the last three years at Sochi, and there could be more again this weekend.
Russian GP Stats
Most wins: Lewis Hamilton (2)
Most poles: Nico Rosberg (2)
Most podiums: Lewis Hamilton (3)