Motorsport: Hamilton and team making F1 history

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and team chief Paddy Lowe after the Formula One Russian Grand Prix.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and team chief Paddy Lowe after the Formula One Russian Grand Prix.
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Lewis Hamilton became only the fourth driver in Formula One history to win nine grands prix in a season by taking the chequered flag at the inaugural race in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin, who arrived at the Sochi Autodrom he had built to ensure the sport came to his country after the 37th lap, looked on with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as Hamilton coasted to victory.

Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was again second, remarkably so as he managed 52 of the 53 laps on one set of Pirelli tyres after a move on Hamilton into turn one saw him flatspot his front rubber.

The ninth one-two for Mercedes this season – one short of McLaren’s 1988 record – guaranteed the Brackley-based marque the constructors’ crown for the first time, one which had been anticipated for some time given their dominance throughout the course of this campaign.

As far as the drivers’ championship is concerned, Hamilton now has a 17-point lead over Rosberg, with 100 up for grabs from the final three races in the United States, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

After crossing the line Hamilton said over the radio: “Congratulations to the team on winning the constructors’ championship. Great job man! History in the making!”

In his message to the team Rosberg recognised he had messed up as he said: “Sorry guys, that was unnecessary, but thank you for the unbelievable car that I was able to recover from that.”

As for Hamilton, only Michael Schumacher, Sebastan Vettel and Nigel Mansell have won nine or more races in a single campign. Hamilton has also now equalled Mansell’s British record of 31 race wins, and this was as easy as they come, all a far cry from the spectacle ahead of the race.

Appreciably, given this was Russia’ inauguration into F1, there was plenty of fanfare, with the organisers producing a grand opening ceremony along the pit straight

It involved around 1,000 people and was part-street parade, part carnival, with not only the fans, but also numerous dignitaries, treated to a remarkable spectacle.

The colourful pageantry, however, became a more sombre affair just under 15 minutes from the start. As a mark of respect for the Russian national anthem, and with their colleague Jules Bianchi fighting for his life following his crash in Japan last week, the remaining drivers lined up at the head of the grid – along with F1 supremo Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt – and it was very well observed.

Afterwards, a clearly delighted Hamilton said: “I’m so happy to be here. We’ve had an amazing week.

“The fans and the organisers, Russia, has been so good to me and the team. Im looking forward to coming here many times. It’s not far from where I live so I can plan some holidays.”

As for the race, Hamilton added: “Nico did a great job to recover from his mistake, but the car perfomed. This is history for us and I’m proud to be a part of it, for me, Nico and the team, winning the constructors championship.”

Recognising Mercedes’ power-packed performance, Rosberg said: “The thing is our car is unbelievable.

“Half of me is disappointed because I messed up, the other half of me is so happy because we’ve won the constructors’ title, which for the team is the most important thing.”

Third on the day was Valtteri Bottas of Williams with McLaren’s Jenson Button fourth.

Behind the top four were McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo seventh, now 92 points behind Hamilton.

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