Lewis Hamilton extended his lead over teammate Nico Rosberg to 73 points with a comfortable win at the Sochi Autodrom after his teammate retired with throttle issues. This leaves the German's title hopes hanging by a thread. Moreover, he surrendered his place in the championship to Sebastian Vettel, who finished second with Sergio Pérez taking a much-deserved third place.
Mercedes could yet win the Constructors' Championship for the second consecutive year at the Russian Grand Prix, as they needed just three points more than Ferrari to wrap it up. However, it is still unclear following Rosberg's retirement and Kimi Raikkonen, who finished fifth, being under investigation for a last lap collision with Valtteri Bottas. If Raikkonen is given a time penalty that drops him below seventh place, the Silver Arrows team will be crowned champions at Sochi.
Rosberg, who started on pole, held onto the lead despite a strong start from Hamilton down into turn one. However, following a first lap safety car due to Hülkenberg's spin and eventual collision with Marcus Ericsson, the German suffered throttle issues and retired on lap seven leaving Hamilton clear for the win. Vettel finished in second as is now behind the championship leader by 66-points, but a 1-2 finish with the 2014 champion in the lead for Mercedes in the US Grand Prix will see him being crowned champion once again.
The German's retirement saw Bottas move into second place, and keep pace with the Mercedes works car. Hamilton, however, was on fuel save mode, and once his team was satisfied with his work, he started to stretch the lead. Lap 12 saw a second safety car appear after Romain Grosjean lost his rear and went into the barriers, the Frenchman walked away with no injuries. This safety car period allowed Vettel to close in on Raikkonen and pass him at the restart.
It was during this safety car period that Ricciardo and Pérez made their first stops, which saw them eventually jump ahead of Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen when the trio made their first stops on lap 36. The four-time world champion managed to find his way through Bottas by stopping a few laps later and coming out ahead of him and Ricciardo, while Raikkonen, who stopped a lap later than his teammate, came out right behind Red Bull driver and his compatriot. The German driver managed to pass Pérez, who was ahead of Ricciardo, early after his first stop and regain his place in second, leaving the two Finns to fight for a place on the podium's final step.
The duo, however, were unable to make progress on Ricciardo and Pérez, despite having fresh tyres. Raikkonen passed Bottas on lap 36, after Bottas struggled to get past the Australian driver ahead of him, only to run wide and concede the place back to the Williams driver. Bottas overtook Ricciardo on lap 45 and Raikkonen eventually got past when the Red Bull driver retired on lap 49 with suspected suspension failure.
Final lap crash
Bottas and Raikkonen eventually caught up with Pérez and passed him on the penultimate lap, but a wild move from the Ferrari driver on turn four of the final lap saw the duo collide, which saw Bottas ending up in the barriers and Raikkonen suffering a broken front wing. The incident lead to the Mexican regaining his place on the final step of the podium – a much-deserved one for the Force India driver following his composed drive in the latter part of the race.
Felipe Massa, who started 15th, was also one of the contenders for the drives of the day alongside Perez, after the Brazilian capitalised on Raikkonen and Bottas' collision to finish in fourth place. The McLaren-Honda team had a good day after Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, who started on the last row of the grid, finished in ninth and tenth respectively. They could yet move a place higher if Raikkonen is excluded from the final race result.
The F1 juggernaut moves on from Russia to the US for the Grand Prix of the Americas. Depending on the stewards' decision Mercedes could arrive as 2015 Constructors' Champions, and Lewis Hamilton could possibly be crowned 2015 F1 World Champion in Austin, Texas on 25 October.