Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton eases to victory at the Russian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton eased to a fourth consecutive victory and ninth of the season at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Briton led from start to finish in his Mercedes as Nico Rosberg recovered from a first lap pit-stop to finish second with Valtteri Bottas third for Williams.

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Before the race, drivers paid tribute to Jules Bianchi as the Frenchman continues to be in a critical but stable condition following his crash at Suzuka last week, all the drivers gathered at the front and held a moment's silence before the lights went out.

Adventurous Rosberg pays the price

And the main action came at the start as Hamilton and Rosberg led away from the front row, the German eased behind his team-mate on the one kilometre run to the first braking point at turn two.

In the slipstream of the leading Mercedes, Rosberg looked to take the lead over Hamilton but locked both his front tyres running wide into the run-off area and had to give the lead back to Hamilton.

Such was the extremity of his lock up into turn two, Rosberg would have to pit at the end of the first lap for new tyres after creating a large flat spot - he would resume in the penultimate position.

Hamilton eases away

With the tyres proving very durable and overtaking quite difficult around the Sochi circuit, it was all about managing the gap to Valtteri Bottas, who was upto second following Rosberg's stop, and he did so pulling out around a few tenths per lap on the Finnish driver.

Behind Fernando Alonso made the best start moving from eighth to fourth sandwiched between the two McLaren's of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.

The two Red Bull teams had contrasting starts within both teams as Sebastian Vettel and Jean-Eric Vergne moved up a few positions while Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat slipped down the order.

The result was the four cars pretty much running with each other early on as Vergne ran as high as fifth with Kvyat in tenth. Spoiling the Red Bull fun was Kimi Raikkonen in ninth for Ferrari.

Rosberg makes quick progress

Following his first lap issues, it was upto Rosberg to recover and such was the durability of the tyres, he was able to complete the remaining 52 laps on a single set of the medium compound.

But what was equally impressive was the quickness in which the Mercedes came back through the midfield and was back into the top 10 by mid-race distance.

Also with the Pirelli rubber not proving a factor in strategy it was upto the drivers to really decide when they made their one and only stop.

Mixed strategies

For Felipe Massa, after starting 18th, the Brazilian joined Rosberg but changed from the medium to the soft compound being one of only a few drivers to stop twice.

This backfired as the Williams driver would fail to score finishing 11th over a minute behind his team-mate in third.

For Ricciardo he decided to pit earlier than most, after completing more laps than most in qualifying on the set of tyres he had to start the race with.

But the early stop benefited the Australian as he was able to jump team-mate Sebastian Vettel and would finish seventh.

Mercedes domination

The main story, however, was a domination of Mercedes power at the front with the first five all powered by the British made German power unit.

With the works team claiming another one-two finish and Valtteri Bottas third it was the two McLaren's behind as they were largely untroubled taking their best combined result since Australia in fourth and fifth as Button led Magnussen.

The only disappointing Mercedes-powered team were Force India as the durable tyres meant they could not use their usual strategy and they lost out badly in their battle for fifth in the Constructors' championship as Sergio Perez only scored the one point compared to the Woking team's 22.

Mercedes claim Constructors' crown

But the race, the weekend and the season belong to Mercedes as their one-two result earns them their first Constructors' championship in F1 history, while for Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion extended his lead to 17 points over Rosberg in the Drivers' championship as the sport goes across the pond for the United States Grand Prix in two weeks time.

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