Hamilton’s Olympic gains
It was gold for Lewis at Sochi 2014, while Nico Rosberg’s race went downhill after the first turn
It was a weekend of contrasts. There were the champagne-soaked celebrations of a triumphant Mercedes, joyous in their garage a few hours after their ninth one-two of the season; Lewis Hamilton once again victorious ahead of his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
After a season of intra-team tension, you couldn’t deny team boss Toto Wolff his broad, victorious smile. As F1 departed Russia, Mercedes had racked up a formidable points tally, 223 more than their closest rivals, the oncedominant Red Bull. Constructors’ title clinched with three races remaining – even taking into account that unpopular double points nale.
And yet, away from the celebrations there was unease and fear. The thoughts of all were with Jules Bianchi, still ghting for his life in a Yokkaichi hospital bed. Team principal John Booth remained at his side, as Jules lay in a critical but stable condition, and was a source of support for his close family and friends who ew out to Japan to be with the Marussia racer.
The rst world championship F1 race to be held on Russian soil was a triumph for the organisers, from a logistical and spectator point of view, but for many travelling directly from Japan, the race was an obstacle ahead of their longed-for return home.
Technically, Marussia entered American Alexander Rossi into this event on the Thursday evening, but before Friday morning practice commenced withdrew the entry, and, as a mark of respect, elded only Max Chilton for the weekend. This was the rst one-car team at a grand prix since Simtek ran just David Brabham in Montréal in 1994. Everyone agreed that racing was the right thing for Marussia to do in such difficult circumstances, but that didn’t make it any easier. On the grid the team stood in support of their absent driver, holding a sign that read: ‘Racing for Jules’, while every driver came together to create a circle prior to the race start in tribute for the injured 25-year-old.
In the aftermath of that terrible accident, which had happened just seven days earlier, emotions were raw. Both FIA president Jean Todt, an old friend of the Bianchi family, and team boss Graeme Lowdon were subdued as they addressed the press ahead of the Russian GP.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult week for Formula 1 and it’s been an incredibly difficult week for our team,” said Lowdon. “But it’s also been a time that has reminded us of just how much support there is for people within this sport. Jules is an exceptional Formula 1 driver but he is also an exceptional human being. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like him.”
There was relief that the Russian Grand Prix passed without major incident, but the on-track action might have disappointed some