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Winners and Losers - Russia

12 Oct 2015

A second consecutive constructors’ crown for Mercedes and a first 2015 podium for Sergio Perez made them definite winners in Sochi, while technical woes for Nico Rosberg and a late-race mauling for Valtteri Bottas put them among the losers. But what of the rest of the field? We take a team-by-team look back on Sunday’s 2015 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix…

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, P1
Nico Rosberg, Retired lap 7, throttle

Losing Rosberg to a throttle problem on the seventh lap, after he had led confidently from the start, seemed like a serious blow to Mercedes’ hopes of cementing a second consecutive constructors’ world championship. But Hamilton controlled the race even with a rear wing problem which made his F1 W06 Hybrid behave a little oddly in the second half, and enabled Vettel to push him to the finish. It was his ninth win of the season, and brought him equal with Vettel’s career total of 42.

The podium celebrations were over, and Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff had rushed to the airport, when the stewards confirmed the 30s time penalty that dropped Raikkonen from fifth to eighth and took away six points from Ferrari’s score of 28. That meant that Mercedes had scored the three points more than the Scuderia that they needed to put things beyond reach with four races remaining, thus securing the title after all.

Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel, P2
Kimi Raikkonen, P8

After Vettel had won an intra-team battle with Raikkonen he was able to push hard enough to get the overcut on Bottas, whose tyres did not last as long. That set him up to push very hard on the soft tyre and to keep Hamilton honest as the Briton struggled with a rear wing problem. His strong second place lifted him to second in the drivers’ championship, following Rosberg’s misfortune. Raikkonen said he lacked straight-line speed and he spent a lot of time bottled up behind slower cars. His move on Bottas on the final lap was adjudged optimistic by the stewards, who gave him a 30s time penalty that dropped him from a battered fifth to eighth.

Force India

Sergio Perez, P3
Nico Hulkenberg, Retired lap 1, accident

Force India hoped for big things with sixth and seventh on the grid, but it all went wrong when Hulkenberg spun on cold tyres in Turn 2 on the opening lap. An opportunistic pit stop under the safety car on lap 12 set Perez up for a great run, however. The Mexican babied his tyres while keeping ahead of Ricciardo, Bottas and Raikkonen, until he succumbed to the latter pair on the final lap. After they collided, though, he regained a richly deserved podium place.

Williams

Felipe Massa, P4
Valtteri Bottas, P12

Williams so deserved a podium with Bottas, even though he had to pit much earlier from second place than either of the Ferraris which were chasing him. Held up in traffic as a result, he lost second to Vettel and was under heavy threat from Raikkonen right up until the final lap, when the elder Finn crashed into him and took him out. Massa, meanwhile, ran soft tyres at the start and was then flying on the supersofts towards the end, when he clawed his way to fourth after a strong performance. It was some consolation, but not much.

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, P5
Daniel Ricciardo, Retired lap 48, suspension

Kvyat thought he got everything out of his Red Bull on his way to a popular fifth in front of his home crowd, while Ricciardo’s was one of the performances of the race as, like Perez, he pitted on the 12th lap and then nursed his tyres all the way through to the 48th lap when he had to stop with suspension problems. Points were definitely on the cards.

Sauber

Felipe Nasr, P6
Marcus Ericsson, Retired lap 1, accident

Like Force India, Sauber lost a car on the opening lap when Ericsson could not avoid the stricken Hulkenberg. But Nasr drove a very strong race to take sixth, and give Sauber some much-needed points that put them even further out of McLaren’s reach.

Lotus

Pastor Maldonado, P7
Romain Grosjean, Retired lap 12, accident

Lotus lost Grosjean early when he got off line on the marbles in Turn 3 and crashed heavily, but fortunately without injury. Maldonado struggled in the latter half after switching the softs on which he had opted to start for the supersofts.

McLaren

Jenson Button, P9
Fernando Alonso, P11

For a while it seemed that McLaren had scored another double points finish, but then Alonso got dropped from 10th to 11th by a five-second penalty for disrespecting track limits in Turn 16. He had been beaten in open warfare by Button, who pushed as hard as he could in a car that was still fodder for any other on the straights.

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, P10
Carlos Sainz, Retired lap 46, brakes

Verstappen’s race was compromised right from the get-go when he was the innocent victim of Hulkenberg’s spin. He got tapped into the wall by the rotating Force India, puncturing his left-rear tyre and inflicting damage which hampered him to the finish. But the ray of light was 10th place after Alonso was penalised.

Sainz bravely insisted on racing and was as feisty as ever despite his 46g impact the previous morning. He was in the running for points when his brakes cried enough, and two spins sent him to the pits to retire. Like Bottas, he deserved better.

Marussia

Roberto Merhi, P13
Will Stevens, P14

Yet again Marussia got both cars home, Merhi was happy with his return to the cockpit, but Stevens was annoyed to lose position during the first safety-car period and then to flat-spot his tyres, requiring another stop, after the second.