Rosberg claims Russian GP

Sochi, May 1

Nico Rosberg became only the fourth driver in Formula One history to record seven successive wins when he cruised to victory ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s incident-filled Russian Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old German started from pole position and produced an imperious performance as he pulled clear of the field to take his fourth win of the 2016 season and the 18th of his career.

He won the final three races of 2015 and is now unbeaten since defending three time world champion Briton Hamilton triumphed in last year’s United States Grand Prix to secure the championship.

The only three men to have reeled off seven straight wins were Italian Alberto Ascari and Germans Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, whose race on Sunday was ended by a first lap accident.

Hamilton, who started 10th, avoided the carnage of a first lap multiple collision that eliminated Vettel to sear through the field and, briefly, threaten a challenge for the lead. Vettel’s Ferrari was hit by Russian rival Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull, who twice rammed into his car. Kyvat had sparked anger from Vettel last time out in China when bumping into him again on the first lap.

Hamilton’s race, however, was stymied by further mechanical problems. He had suffered an engine failure in qualifying on Saturday and he was forced to nurse his Mercedes home 25 seconds behind the rampant Rosberg.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen finished third in the second Ferrari ahead of compatriot Valtteri Bottas and his Williams teammate Brazilian Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso came home a much-improved sixth for McLaren ahead of Kevin Magnussen of Renault, Romain Grosjean for Haas, Sergio Perez of Force India and 2009 champion Jenson Button who was 10th in the second McLaren.

Rosberg’s win increased his lead in the drivers championship to 43 points, ahead of Hamilton, after four of this year’s 21 races.