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Nico Rosberg triumphed at the Russian Grand Prix to extend his World Championship advantage over Lewis Hamilton, who finished second in Sochi.
Starting from pole position, Rosberg recorded a relatively straightforward win to secure his fourth victory from four events in 2016, opening up a 43-point lead at the top of the standings.
Hamilton, 10th on the grid following a power-unit problem in qualifying, benefitted from running wide to avoid trouble on the opening lap, before employing overtaking manoeuvres on Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.
The current champion, however, took until the 19th lap to force his way past Valtteri Bottas, all the while allowing Rosberg to power away at the front.
Ferrrari’s Raikkonen jumped Bottas during the pit-stop phase to ultimately secure the final podium spot, with the Williams driver taking fourth place.
In the other Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel spun off and into the Turn 3 barriers with a puncture on the opening lap, following multiple doses of contact from Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, with the Russian’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, also involved.
Kvyat’s hopes of taking points from his home Grand Prix effectively ended when he received a stop-go penalty for his multi-element attack on Vettel. The punishment was tough to dispute, with the 22-year-old having locked up under braking at Turn 2 to tag Vettel, before catching his rival again in the immediate aftermath and ploughing into the Ferrari’s rear for a second time.
Ricciardo, too, finished outside of the points on a very poor day for Red Bull.
Behind teammate Bottas, Felipe Massa stayed out of trouble to finish fifth for Williams.
The Sochi Autodrom proved to be kind and suitable to McLaren, as Fernando Alonso came from 14th on the grid to finish sixth and Jenson Button grabbed the final available point with 10th place.
Renault’s Kevin Magnussen rose 10 places from his grid slot to finish seventh, with Romain Grosjean a fine eighth for Haas, while Force India’s Sergio Perez recovered from a first-lap puncture to come home ninth.
As the lights went out at a start, chaos ensued, resulting in several collisions and Vettel’s retirement from the race, while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez also sustained significant damage. The safety car was deployed.
On the restart, Rosberg got away well, as he had done initially.
Raikkonen had stolen second off Bottas on the first lap but when the safety car returned to the pits, the Williams driver quickly returned the favour to his fellow Finn.
The Ferrari veteran, though, moved back ahead of Bottas during the pit-stop window and was not to relinquish the podium spot for the remainder of the race.
Up front, Rosberg avoided coming under attack from Hamilton, particularly as the Englishman began to suffer from a water-pressure issue late in the race.
Rosberg cruised to victory - it was the German’s seventh win on the trot - and extended his standings lead over the current champion to a very healthy margin.
Russian Grand Prix race results
Pos. Driver, Team, Time/Gap
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:32:41.997
2. Lewis Hamlilton, Mercedes, +0:25.022
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +0:31.998
4. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +0:50.217
5. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1:14.427
6. Fernando Alonson, McLaren, +1 lap
7. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, +1 lap
8. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, +1 lap
9. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1 lap
10. Jenson Button, McLaren, +1 lap
11. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +1 lap
12. Carlos Sainz Jnr., Toro Rosso, +1 lap
13. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +1 lap
14. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +1 lap
15. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, +1 lap
16. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, +1 lap
17. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas F1, +1 lap
18. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, +2 laps
Driver, Team, Laps Completed
Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 33
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 0
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 0
Rio Haryanto, Manor, 0
By David Maher