Russian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton took a dominant Russian Grand Prix victory following the early retirement of race leader Nico Rosberg to extend his championship lead.
Hamilton was the main beneficiary of throttle problems for Rosberg, who retired early on in the race to allow his team-mate a straightforward path to victory, extending his championship lead to a mammoth 66 points with 100 still to play for.
As the lights went out Nico Rosberg got a strong start ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who was pushing him hard into the opening corners. Kimi Raikkonen managed leapfrog into third place ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel. A spin for Nico Hulkenberg into turn two saw the Force India driver collect Max Verstappen and Marcus Ericsson. Verstappen was able to continue, but Hulkenberg and Ericsson were out on the spot. The safety car was deployed.
Verstappen and Grosjean pitted for repairs and prime tyres, joining the tail of the pack in time for the safety car restart. The Mercedes drivers got away well as Bottas brushed past Raikkonen for third place. Rosberg began to report issues with a broken throttle to his team.
Only a couple of laps later, a throttle-induced error from Rosberg allowed Hamilton to overtake for the lead. With the throttle fault ever-worsening, Rosberg was soon passed by Bottas before electing to crawl back to the pits, retiring from the race.
Romain Grosjean then brought out the safety car once again after a big crash at turn three. The Lotus driver lost control of his car on the marbles on the outside of the corner, sending his car into the tecpro barrier on the outside of the corner. Grosjean walked away unhurt, but this prompted several drivers to make a pit stop. Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso all pitted.
For the restart, the order was Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Vettel, Kvyat, Nasr, Massa (lead prime runner), Maldonado, Perez, Ricciardo. The safety car returned to the pits at start of lap 17. With Hamilton backing up the pack, the Ferrari drivers were close enough to duel into turn two. An attempted pass by Vettel resulted in Raikkonen running wide and retaining the place, which Raikkonen yielded a couple of corners later.
With the race approaching half-way, Vettel was reeling in second-placed Bottas and was soon within the one-second window for DRS activation. After relaying to the team that the tyres were too worn, Bottas headed for the pits to fit the prime tyres, Vettel continued. Ferrari elected to make use of Bottas returning to the track behind traffic, with the Finn now racing behind Carlos Sainz in eleventh.
Vettel’s pit stop a couple of laps later resulted in the four-time champion returning ahead of Bottas, with Kimi Raikkonen attempting to do the same when he pitted one lap later. Raikkonen was narrowly edged behind at turn two, meaning Bottas held the place. Meanwhile, Vettel was already passing Sergio Perez, who seemed to be attempting a long soft-tyre stint.
With fifteen laps to go, Hamilton lead Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Raikkonen, Sainz, Kvyat, Massa and Button. Having pitted in on lap 12, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo were looking to reach the end of the race on older soft tyres.
With nine laps to go, Bottas launched a DRS-attack on Ricciardo on the main straight, passing before the pair reached turn two. An attempt from Raikkonen on the following lap at the same corner resulted in the Finn running wide at turn two, having to give up the gained position back to Ricciardo.
Brake problems for Carlos Sainz resulted in two spins for the Toro Rosso driver, he only made light contact with the barrier on the second spin but he recovered to move his car off the circuit. Raikkonen, meanwhile, managed to pass Ricciardo at turn two for fourth place. Ricciardo, however, was forced to pull off the circuit with suspected broken suspension, giving up sixth place.
Both Bottas and Raikkonen caught Perez in the final couple of laps. Bottas overtook into turn fourteen with Raikkonen following through. However, on the final lap, Raikkonen made an ambitious overtake on Bottas, causing a collision and putting Bottas out on the spot. Perez reclaimed third.
Ahead, Hamilton wrapped up a comfortable victory in front of Sebastian Vettel, with Perez collecting third. Felipe Massa benefitted from the late drama to take fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (who is now under investigation), Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Nasr, Pastor Maldonado, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.