Hamilton wins Russian GP as Rosberg fails to finish

Associated Press

October 11, 2015

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads during the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday.

SOCHI, Russia - Lewis Hamilton took a huge step toward retaining his Formula One title by winning the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday as his main rival Nico Rosberg failed to finish.

Hamilton started second behind Rosberg and took over the lead from his Mercedes teammate when Rosberg experienced a throttle problem that forced him to slow to a crawl and then come into the pits to retire.

Hamilton then cruised to victory by 5.9 seconds over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, with Sergio Perez third for Force India, 17 seconds further behind.

With four races to go, Hamilton leads Vettel by 66 points and Rosberg by 73.

Mercedes did not manage to secure the constructors' title but could yet do so if Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is given a penalty for a last-lap collision with Valtteri Bottas' Williams.

Bottas and Raikkonen both passed Perez for third and fourth place respectively, before Raikkonen attempted a poorly-judged move on the inside to take third from Bottas, spinning the Williams driver into the wall.

Perez's third place was the best finish this year for Force India, while Raikkonen limped home in fifth behind the second Williams of Felipe Massa.

Russian driver Daniil Kvyat pleased the home crowd with sixth, ahead of Felipe Nasr for Sauber and Pastor Maldonado for Lotus. The two McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 in what is only the second time this season that the troubled team has had both drivers finish in the points.

Following his retirement on lap 7, Rosberg said his throttle pedal had broken, forcing him to lift his entire leg for braking, a situation the German called "quite dangerous."

However, he insisted he would not give up on the title.

"The championship is more difficult of course but I am never going to win a championship like that when normal things break," he told the BBC.

Hamilton has 302 points, Vettel is second with 236 and Rosberg has 229. No other driver is in contention.

Vettel was surprised by an intruder on the track in Singapore last month and had another close encounter in Sochi, speeding past as a Russian marshal gathered debris from the track.

Two major accidents brought out the safety car in the early stages.

The fight for the lead on the first lap between Hamilton and Rosberg was almost immediately curtailed by a first-lap incident when Nico Hulkenberg's Force India span, collecting the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. Both machines were left stranded, bringing out the safety car.

On lap 12, Romain Grosjean lost control of his Lotus and hurtled into the barriers at high speed, wrecking the car. Despite the violence of the impact, Grosjean was uninjured.

Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr., who was only cleared to race by doctors on Sunday morning following a heavy crash in practice, started last. The Spaniard stormed through the field into the top 10, but his race ended late on when his brakes overheated.