Surprises and struggles of Sochi

By Daniel Wilson

This weekend’s Grand Prix was unique in many ways. It is the first time the F1 world championship has headed to Russia in its 64-year history.

Set in and around the spectacular site of this year’s Winter Olympics, the Sochi Autodrom has certainly stamped its authority as one of the most popular tracks on the calendar – a view shared by drivers and fans alike.

However, there is no doubt the inaugural Russian GP has been overshadowed by the condition of Jules Bianchi, who suffered severe head injuries following a collision with a recovery vehicle at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The Marussia driver remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital near Suzuka, and out of respect, the team decided not to run a second car at Sochi.

But there was a race to be held, and a championship battle to continue, of which Lewis Hamilton now led by ten points from teammate Nico Rosberg following the Briton’s first victory in Japan, and eighth of the season.

From the outset, Hamilton looked to have the edge on Rosberg, despite narrowly losing out to him in FP1.

However, in qualifying, Lewis found another gear and beat his teammate to pole position, despite a late challenege from an impressive Valterri Bottas. The improved McLaren of Jenson Button lined up fourth while home favourite Daniil Kvyat was the driver of the day to put his Toro Rosso in fifth place on the grid.

Hamilton 14

Race day arrived, and the weather was perfect. Lights out, and the two Mercedes drivers got a good start but Rosberg got alongside his teammate into Turn 2, but locked up his tyres to run wide. This meant he had to give the place back and make a pit stop after destroying his soft tyres.

He came back out in 20th place, and with a seemingly impossible task of nursing his tyres for 52 laps to the chequered flag – a disastrous start for the German.

However, Rosberg fought his way back through the field, and magically managed to hold off Bottas to finish in second place.

Even as a Hamilton fan, I have to say Rosberg is my driver of the day. To gain and hold 18 places and complete near enough a whole race on one set of tyres is incredible and a demonstration of Mercedes’ dominance this year.

Meanwhile, title rival Hamilton had an easy afternoon in coast mode as he took his ninth win of the year and equal Nigel Mansell for the British record of 31 victories, and extend his lead at the top of the championship to 17 points with three races to go.

Although, for Kvyat, his Saturday and Sunday couldn’t have been more different. After starting from fifth, he struggled with the car’s balance and tyres to limp home in a bitterly disappointing 14th place.

However, for Mercedes, the one-two finish was more than enough to seal their first ever Constructors Championship in F1, leading Red Bull by 223 points already.

So, as the world continues to pray for Jules, the F1 circus takes a three-week pause for breath before heading to Austin for the next round in an incredible inter-team battle.

And I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens next.

Were you at the Russian Grand Prix or did you see it?

What did you make of it?

Leave your thoughts below!

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