The Russian track is one of the newest on the calendar. Here’s a look back at the first two races in Sochi!
Mercedes dominate Russia’s first Grand Prix.
Formula One made its début in Russia in 2014. The début was slightly marred by the ultimately fatal accident of Jules Bianchi in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix which had taken place just a week earlier.
Hamilton took pole for the race and was nearly beaten into Turn 1 by his team-mate but Nico locked up and flat-spotted his tyres. Rosberg had to pit at the end of Lap 1. He swapped onto the harder compound tyres, which lasted for the entire race.
Max Chilton retired on Lap 9 due to suspension problems. Marussia, running just one car at this race, made their last race appearance of the year here due to financial difficulties. Nico made a comeback to 2nd while Hamilton won the race in dominant fashion, 13 seconds ahead of his team-mate. Mercedes were crowned constructors’ champions after the Grand Prix, following the 9th 1-2 for the team in 2014.
There were crashes aplenty in the second visit to Sochi.
On the Friday of 2015’s Russian event, there was an oil spillage from one of the circuit vehicles on the track which delayed the start of Practice 1. Further delays were caused by marshals bizarrely attempting to hose the oil from the track surface with water. On Saturday morning, Carlos Sainz had a huge accident which left him stuck in his car under the tyre barrier for 15 minutes. After spending some time being checked in hospital, he remarkably started the race on Sunday.
Rosberg started on pole in the second running of the Russian Grand Prix and made it cleanly through the first corner at the start this time around. Things weren’t so clean at the back as Hulkenberg spun his way into turn two. The safety car was deployed as Hulkenberg’s spin had caused terminal damage to both his and Marcus Ericsson’s cars. Max Verstappen also collected a puncture in the collision.
A few laps after the Safety Car, there was an issue with Rosberg’s throttle pedal and his team-mate soon took advantage. Nico was dramatically losing pace and, after an attempt was made to fix the issue, Rosberg was forced to retire.
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean had a dramatic crash through turn three. He escaped unharmed. The race continued under the safety car and resumed after barrier repairs had been carried out. Hamilton pulled away at the front and from then on his lead was never threatened.
Perez was sitting in third place in the closing stages of the race. He had pitted early and made his super-soft tyres last for almost 40 laps. He was much slower than Raikkonen and Bottas behind, who both caught and passed him in the closing stages. On the final lap, Bottas and Raikkonen were battling for the final podium position. Kimi took the radio call ‘all or nothing’ slightly too seriously and took his compatriot out of the race in an audacious move. Raikkonen had damage to his car, so rounded the final corners cautiously, allowing Sergio Perez to re-take a well-deserved 3rd place.
Lewis Hamilton won the race and increased the points gap to his team-mate. He was by now well on his way to a third title. Raikkonen was penalised for his last lap collision and the points Ferrari lost from this meant that Mercedes won the Constructors’ title for the second successive year.
What are your favourite moments from the Sochi Autodrom so far? Let me know in the comments below!
After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fifth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.