Catch him if you can!

F1 Racing (UK) - - FINISHING STRAIGHT -

Rosberg col­lects a sev­enth con­sec­u­tive win af­ter Hamil­ton suf­fers yet more power-unit woes

Nico Rosberg was spot­ted sprint­ing through the pad­dock a few hours af­ter the Rus­sian GP in Sochi. In his right hand was a bot­tle of un­opened cham­pagne. Dur­ing his spir­ited run, re­porters tried to catch him, but for the sec­ond time this af­ter­noon no one was able to keep up.

This was Rosberg’s sev­enth con­sec­u­tive grand prix vic­tory, putting him level with Al­berto As­cari and Michael Schu­macher and two short of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s all-time record. It was a per­fect week­end. Pole, fastest lap and win, and he’s now racked up 100 points, open­ing a large gap over a trou­bled Lewis Hamil­ton, who fin­ished sec­ond from a lowly tenth on the grid.

Hamil­ton’s woes started in qual­i­fy­ing, with a re­peat of the power-unit prob­lem he’d suf­fered at the pre­vi­ous race in China. Sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion back at Brix­worth un­cov­ered a prob­lem with the MGU-H’S in­su­la­tion, and the tur­bocharger and oil pumps were re­placed af­ter de­bris was found in the oil sys­tem.

Ac­cord­ing to the team, a sim­i­lar prob­lem oc­curred at the start of Q3 on Satur­day and Hamil­ton was de­nied the chance to set a lap time. The team swiftly set in mo­tion a mid­night run to have re­place­ment parts trans­ported from Northamp­ton­shire to the Black Sea re­sort of Sochi. Niki Lauda was able to source a plane, Paddy Lowe’s Rus­sian PA co-han­dled lo­gis­tics and a cer­tain Bernie Ec­cle­stone in­ter­rupted Toto Wolff on the phone dur­ing the team boss’s me­dia brief­ing on Satur­day af­ter­noon, to play his part…

“Yes, we finally sorted the plane, got the re­place­ment part on it and Bernie sorted the cus­toms,” con­firmed Wolff af­ter the race. “The plane landed at 2am with a box on it and within 90 sec­onds the box was in a car on the way to the track. I don’t want to know how Bernie sorted that out…”

Fast for­ward to Sun­day af­ter­noon, and as the pack headed for the Turn 2 brak­ing zone, Rosberg led, but be­hind him chaos was about to erupt. Kimi Räikkö­nen had man­aged to nab sec­ond from Bot­tas, but Daniil Kvyat mis­judged his brak­ing and rammed the back of Vet­tel’s Fer­rari. That pitched the scar­let ma­chine into Daniel Ric­cia­rdo’s Red Bull, caus­ing him to slide into the back of Ser­gio Pérez’s Force In­dia.

As the field scram­bled around Turn 2 and into T3, Pérez be­gan to slow on ac­count of a right-rear punc­ture, and as Vet­tel cau­tiously ap­proached him he was once again hit by Kvyat. As he spun into the T3 tyre wall there fol­lowed a series of foul-mouthed ex­ple­tives from within the Fer­rari cock­pit. Vet­tel had calmed down by the time he spoke to me­dia: “In the end these things hap­pen, but ob­vi­ously it’s harsh,” he said. “I don’t dis­like him [Kvyat], but I think he made a mis­take two weeks ago and a mis­take to­day.”

Not only was this a dis­as­ter for Vet­tel, but it destroyed Red Bull’s race. Both Ric­cia­rdo and Kvyat pit­ted for the slower medium tyre, but were un­able to drive back into con­tention, their

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