Nico Rosberg’s lead was never threatened as Lewis Hamilton, helped in part by a chaotic first lap, recovered from his engine failure in qualifying to finish second, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen completing the podium places.
In the build-up to Sunday’s race, Hamilton insisted he could not lose any further ground to Rosberg, but the Briton will now head to the Spanish Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time 43 points adrift of his Mercedes team-mate.
A herculean effort from Hamilton’s Mercedes team, who flew replacement parts from their Brixworth base on a chartered jet to Sochi, ensured the Briton started from 10th rather than the pit lane under Formula One’s complicated engine rules. It also afforded Hamilton a bird’s eye view of the mayhem which was to unfold at turn two on the opening lap.While Rosberg, starting from pole, easily retained his lead, Sebastian Vettel’s race was over before it started. Vettel, starting in seventh after a grid penalty, labelled Daniil Kvyat as a “mad man” in a toe-curling face-to-face exchange at the previous race in China, and here, the two men were at it again. Kvyat, the home favourite, thumped into the back of Vettel at turn two before crashing into him again moments later. The force of the impact sent Vettel spinning into the wall before the German launched an extraordinary expletive-fuelled rant over the team radio, broadcast to the millions of viewers watching around the world.