Lewis Hamilton moved within touching distance of a third Formula 1 world championship by dominating the Russian Grand Prix after his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg retired.
Hamilton went side-by-side with polesitter Rosberg on the rundown to Turn 2 on the opening lap, but the German was able to keep the lead.
Then when the safety car was called into action for a first-lap collision between Nico Hulkenberg's spinning Force India and a helpless Marcus Ericsson, Rosberg encountered a problem with his throttle pedal.
The struggling German twice ran wide at Turn 2, allowing Hamilton to take the lead and then Williams's Valtteri Bottas into second.
Rosberg subsequently slowed, crawling back to the pits where he retired the car, to leave him 73 points behind championship leader Hamilton with only 100 still available.
Mercedes will have to wait until at least Austin to unpack its constructors' championship t-shirts as it failed to outscore Ferrari by the required three points.
It was Hamilton's 42nd career win, putting him one clear of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna and level with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel was second, moving above Rosberg into second in the drivers' standings, though if Hamilton outscores Vettel by nine points and Rosberg by two in America he will be champion.
Force India's Sergio Perez scored Force India's third-ever podium, after choosing to pit under a second safety car and running a long stint on the softs.
That safety car period had been caused when Romain Grosjean lost the rear end of his Lotus at Turn 3 and as he tried to corrected, the car wobbled the other way, sending him onto the marbles and into the barriers.
The Frenchman walked away from the incident, but admitted he would probably feel a little sore on Monday morning.
There was drama on the final lap, when Bottas passed Perez for third, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen following him through.
But Raikkonen then had a lunge at Turn 4, hitting Bottas at the apex and pushing the Williams into the barrier.
Raikkonen survived the damage to get to the finish in fifth, behind Williams's Felipe Massa who produced a superb recovery drive from 15th.
The stewards confirmed they would investigate the collision between Raikkonen and Bottas.
Daniil Kvyat finished sixth on home soil in the Red Bull ahead of Sauber's Felipe Nasr and Lotus's Pastor Maldonado.
McLaren scored points with both cars for the first time this season with Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, celebrating his 250th grand prix weekend but 248th start, ninth and 10th respectively.
Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr was on course for a superb points finish having started at the the back of the field after missing qualifying following a high-speed crash in final practice.
But the Spaniard appeared to suffer a brake problem, causing him to spin twice, once into the barriers, and then retire the car a few corners later with significant damage to the rear wing.
Team-mate Max Verstappen, who suffered a puncture on the first lap when clipped by the spinning Hulkenberg, 11th with Bottas classified 12th.
Ricciardo was on course to finish fourth, but pulled off track with six laps to go, suggesting something had broken on the suspension.
The Manor-run Marussias of Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens completed the list of finishers.
RESULTS - 53 LAPS:
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||28.918s|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||47.566s|
|11||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m28.424s|
|13||Roberto Merhi||Marussia/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|14||Will Stevens||Marussia/Ferrari||2 Laps|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||Suspension|
|-||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||Brakes|
|-||Romain Grosjean||Lotus/Mercedes||Spun off|
|-||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||Collision|
No comments yet. Be the first to comment.