The world championship all but belongs to Lewis Hamilton after scoring the victory in Russia.
The driver of the No. 44 Mercedes AMG Petronas car capitalized on the mechanical failure of teammate and pole sitter Nico Rosberg to score his 42nd career win in Formula 1. It moves him past his hero Ayrton Senna and ties him for third on the all-time wins list with Sebastian Vettel. Speaking of which, the driver of the No. 5 Scuderia Ferrari car finished runner-up. Last-lap mayhem allowed Sergio Pérez to take his Sahara Force India-Mercedes to his fifth career podium finish.
Williams-Mercedes Felipe Massa and Red Bull-Renault’s Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top-five.
Felipe Nasr, Pastor Maldonado, Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button and Max Verstappen rounded out the top-10. Fernando Alonso, who originally finished 10th, was handed a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits and was demoted to 11th. It cost McLaren-Honda their second double points finish of the season.
This was one of the more bizarre races I’ve seen this season. It started on the first lap with a collision in Turn 2 involving the other Sahara Force India of Nico Hülkenburg and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson. It forced the deployment of the safety car.
On lap six, Rosberg retired from the race with a broken throttle. With Hamilton winning the race, it all but ends the title hopes for the German driver.
A few laps later, Romain Grosjean got loose in Turn 3, overcorrected and slammed the wall. It forced the safety car to come out a second time.
Another unusual note is that the super-soft Pirelli tires, which are supposed to wear out at a significant rate, lasted more than half the race for some of the lead cars. To put it another way, as NBC’s Will Buxton did, “this’ll send the OCD fans into a tizzy.”
In the closing laps of the race, Martinsville broke loose. Carlos Sainz Jr., who was running in the top-10, had a brake failure and spun out in the same part of the track where he had a heavy wreck the day before. A piece of his wing fell on the track and required a marshall to retrieve it. Someone wasn’t paying attention to the location of oncoming cars because he about got hit by Sebastian Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo was running fifth when he had engine issues in the closing laps and retired from the race.
It was the battle for the final podium step on the final lap that will stand out the most. Rounding turn 4, Kimi Räikkönen made contact with Valtteri Bottas and sent him into the wall. This allowed Sergio Pérez to take the final podium step. After the race, Räikkönen was handed a 30 second time penalty, moving him down to eighth. This gave Mercedes the Constructors’ Championship.
After all was said and done. Lewis Hamilton left as the points leader. Sebastian Vettel moved past Nico Rosberg for second in the points.
There is a chance Hamilton can clinch the drivers championship in two weeks at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. That race will be Sunday, Oct. 25 at 2:30 p.m. on NBC.