A number of things may have gone awfully wrong for drivers during this year’s Russian Grand Prix last Sunday, but the championship is looking well for Nico Rosberg. He scored his fourth consecutive race win of the season and a historic seventh straight win of his career.
Mercedes Petronas AMG driver Rosberg has played things right once again to emerge first in Sochi and stretch the lead further from teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton. The German now leads in the driver standings with 100 points.
Hamilton is significantly behind with 57, followed by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen with 43 points. At the same time, Rosberg made history by becoming the fourth driver (after Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel) to win seven races in a row. The German has been nonstop in his winning ways since the last three races of last year’s Formula 1 season.
Things were already looking well for Rosberg as early as Saturday. The Mercedes driver took pole in qualifying, while Hamilton was forced to abandon the third qualifying session due to a problem with one of the Mercedes power units. The exact same problem had plagued Hamilton’s race weekend in China recently.
For the race, Hamilton was forced to start from 10th. The Brit would go on to finish second and then later admit he would have done a better job if he didn’t have engine problems. During a press conference, Hamilton remarked, “I had the pace but I had a problem with the engine again, so I had to back off.”
Meanwhile, the race went worse for Ferrari’s Vettel. A gearbox penalty meant that even when he qualified second, he still got demoted to seventh on the grid at the opening of the race.
And while Vettel is no stranger to fighting his way to the front from the midfield, his run was abruptly ended at lap two when Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat made contact with his car twice, first sending his car towards Kvyat’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo and then sending him crashing into the barriers.
The tension has already been high between the two drivers since China, where Vettel remarked about the Russian driver’s aggressiveness on the track. Whereas Kvyat seemed to have shaken off Vettel’s comments before, he was quick to admit his fault this time.
Following the race, Kvyat said, “All the mess came from me… of course it doesn’t feel great but these things happen sometimes. It’s probably the messiest [start] of my career. I will learn from it – and of course apologies to everyone involved.”
At the same time, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also expressed his apologies to their former driver. “Obviously Seb was slightly frustrated. All I could do was apologise, because this week it was unfortunately a mistake from Dany,” he admitted.
While Vettel may have had some choice words for Kvyat on the track, he seemed to have calmed down a once he had returned to the paddock. Of the incident, he said, “These things happen – there is nothing I could have done differently. I think there was enough damage to conclude I couldn’t continue. If anyone needs to talk to anyone, I think it’s him [Kvyat]…”
On the other side of the Ferrari garage, Raikonnen went on to take third place.
For the incident, Kvyat had received a 10-second stop and go penalty along with three penalty points. He finished in 15th place.
DK "I'm sorry to Seb and also the Team. It doesn't feel great this is probably the messiest first lap of my career." pic.twitter.com/9t5k08xgl0
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) May 1, 2016