Consider it a 19 round bout by knockout in the World Heavyweight Championships. Rounds 1, 6, 8 and 10 have gone to Nico Rosberg – 7, 11 and 12 to Daniel Ricciardo – 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 13, 14, 15 and 16 to Lewis Hamilton.
He's the one throwing the maximum punches. The one with the most effective combinations. And his rivals seem to have no answer. Red Bull aren't helping Dani with radical strategies anymore. The RB10's lack of outright pace means he isn’t going to surprise-leapfrog any of the Silver Arrows soon. And their refocused approach towards getting those 1-2 finishes means the best he can aim for is a podium. Which of late has been Williams' territory.
Nico, seems to have dug himself into a psychological pit. One that Hamilton frequently visited post-Monaco. But has successfully climbed out of recently!
When the lights went out at Sochi, the Black Sea resort venue of the Russian Grand Prix, Rosberg had Turn 2 covered. He thought. But instead of turning in earlier than his team mate, he got mixed up adjusting his safety harnesses and braking so late that his front wheels locked up making for spectacular photography! It’s going to be a lasting image in everyone’s memories of Sochi. Two Silver Arrows in formation…one sliding out in trails of thick smoke.
So severe was his lock up that he flat spotted both tyres which led to vibrations so extreme that he had to pit immediately. On Lap 1.
"What's our strategy now?!" yelled Nico on the radio. "We’ve to race on the mediums till the end Nico," was the reply.
It was a combination of Rosberg's smooth driving style, Sochi's new non-abrasive surface and Pirellis super-conservative approach to tyre construction that saw the Championship contender drive the rest of the race without a pit stop! What his drive did underline was the supremacy of the 2014 Mercedes W05 Turbo Hybrid. And it was only fitting that with both cars taking their 9th one-two finish - they sealed the Formula 1 World Constructors Championship. With three rounds to spare.
Lewis Hamilton won in cruise mode. Making him the most successful driver in Britain. He now has 31 wins like Mansell, with a few more to come his way this season for sure.
Barring a few dices between Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Jean Eric Vergne and Kevin Magnussen, the race was quite a disaster on the entertainment front.
On Lap 32, Rosberg flew past a bewildered Valterri Bottas to reclaim P2. The Williams pit wall reassured their Finn that Mercedes #6 was bound to have degradation issues sooner or later and that "we’ll get the position back…!". They were playing chess with their estimations of the wear and tear of Mercedes' Pirellis. They were not alone in their thinking. Jenson Button in the McLaren in P4 was also intrigued about Rosberg's medium compound pace and durability. To his surprise and to many around the world, the second W05 tucked in behind race leader Lewis Hamilton who was now about 13s ahead to finish in P2.
It's a wonder that both Williams and McLaren hadn't taken the Mercedes radio discussion seriously! Rosberg was always one-stopping.
When asked if he liked to party the Russian way by the podium interviewer, Lewis said he loves Vodka. So why not. He's now joined an elite group of greats who have won 9 or more times in a single season. But that won't do for Hamilton to sew up championship number two. He has to ensure he keeps the pressure on Rosberg to make more mistakes right till the end.
From what we've seen so far, that shouldn't be too difficult.
Hamilton - Mercedes AMG Petronas 1hr 31m 50.744s
Rosberg - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Bottas - Williams Martini Racing
Ajit Devadason is an Advertising professional who is passionate about "all things racing, all things fast." Follow his blog at www.racingline.effwon.com