FLASHBACK: Three Years of Sochi Success

FLASHBACK: Three Years of Sochi Success

Russia has been a happy hunting ground for the Silver Arrows since it arrived on the Formula One calendar in 2014, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg claiming all three wins on offer. Sochi has also been the scene of two of the teams’ three Constructors’ Championship wins.

Lewis claimed top honours on F1’s first visit to the Sochi Autodrom in 2014, cruising through the Russian sunshine to clinch a ninth win of the season.

It was a dominant weekend for the Brit, who saw off an early attack from team mate and title rival Nico to take the flag. Nico actually claimed the lead on the long run down to Turn 2 – but had to jump hard on the anchors to make it through the right-hander. A massive lock-up left him with a nasty tyre flat spot and he was back into the pits for fresh rubber at the end of the opening lap.

As Lewis clocked up the miles out front, Nico switched onto medium tyres and, on the super-smooth Sochi surface, produced a mighty 52-lap stint to cut his way through the field and complete a Silver Arrows 1-2, as a first F1 Constructor’s Championship for Mercedes-Benz was sealed in style.

“I’m so proud to have contributed to the work of this great team. To get the first Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes-Benz is a huge achievement,” said Lewis. “Massive congratulations to the guys back in the UK and Germany. It’s history for us.”

Nico added: “We are World Champions! I feel so happy for the team and the whole Mercedes-Benz family, we made history. I remember well the hard times we had in this team. So now it’s great to be so dominant in our sport.”

To cap off a very special day for the marque, Mercedes-Benz powered cars filled out the top five positions in Sochi.

Lewis notched up a second Russian Grand Prix win in as many years in 2015 – but unlike the previous season, he didn’t have it all his own way...

After a mega performance on the Saturday, Nico lined up on pole and lead the field away from lights out. But it wasn’t to be his weekend, as a faulty throttle forced him to retire early in the race.

That unleashed Lewis, who retained his lead through his first stop before soaking up late pressure from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to win for a second time in Sochi. In what was a cracker of a race, the drama went right to the flag – Sergio Pérez claiming a well-deserved podium for Force India after Kimi Räikkönen and Valtteri Bottas clashed on the final lap.

With Nico retiring, it looked like the Silver Arrows would have to wait to clinch the Constructors’ crown. That was until Räikkönen was penalised for putting Bottas out of the race, handing Mercedes the three points needed to claim back-to-back crowns. There are never any simple days in Formula One.

“To get the Constructors’ Championship feels very special. It’s a great feeling to be a part of this and to have contributed to the team’s success,” said Lewis. “I knew the guys were going to do a good job this year. But they’ve done an even better job this year than last, which is phenomenal.”

Nico added: “We can be very happy that we secured the Constructors’ title a second time in a row. It’s a good day for everyone in the factories and we have to thank everyone that made this happen.”

Formula One arrived in Sochi early for 2016, as the race shifted to the fourth spot on the calendar.

After two wins for Lewis in 2014 and 2015, Nico struck back – claiming his first win in Russia and his fourth of the 2016 season. Nico’s victory was his seventh on the bounce and continued his perfect start to the season – 100 points from 100. With pole, fastest lap and every lap led, Russia also marked the German’s first F1 Grand Slam – a mighty achievement.

While it was a weekend of highs for Nico, Lewis endured a tough few days, starting just P10 after a Power Unit issue forced him to miss Q3. As the lights went out he made a rapid start, surviving the Turn 2 melee that eliminated Sebastian Vettel to move up to P5.

Lewis made light work of Felipe Massa’s Williams and dispatched Kimi Räikkönen before the first round of stops, before jumping Valtteri Bottas on fresh rubber. A mid-race water pressure scare caused lots of foot-tapping on the pit wall – but Lewis brought his car home to complete a second Silver Arrows 1-2 in three years at the Sochi Autodrom.

Three wins, two title triumphs and one gutting retirement… Sochi has earned a special place in the history of the Silver Arrows. But past glories are no marker for future success. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport will face a fresh challenge this weekend in Russia. It’s game on!

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