There was a sombre mood when Formula One arrived in Sochi that year. Days after the crash, in which Jules Bianchi would take his life, the paddock a shocked and this weekend was more about racing for him and carrying on. The first Russian Grand Prix in a century was overshadowed as well by allegations of Russian involvement in Eastern Ukraine and the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
Lewis Hamilton took pole from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg after he found time on his final run in Q3. Unlike Rosberg, who made a mistake on his final run in the session like Williams Valtteri Bottas who ran wide at the last corner.
But for Williams it was a mixed afternoon, as Felipe Massa failed to make it out of Q1 following a problem with the engine. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was an impressive fifth which was the best result so far in his debut season. It was a decent qualifying for Jenson Button who was fifth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen.
However Magnussen was demoted five places because of a gearbox failure in FP3. Sebastian Vettel, made a mistake in his set up meaning he dropped out in Q2 for the fourth time that season. Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile beat both the ferrari’s of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen to start seventh.
Lewis Hamilton was in total control of the race after pressuring his Mercedes Nico Rosberg into a mistake on the opening lap. Hamilton’s fourth consecutive race victory set him up for the championship, after Rosberg dropped to the back of the pack, before recovering to second.
This allowed Mercedes to seal the constructor’s championship. Hamilton looked unbeatable as he tied with Nigel Mansell’s all-time British victory record while Rosberg went about limiting the damage to his growing points disadvantage in the championship.
It was a strong race for Valtteri Bottas who finish third despite the huge gap to his future team-mate Hamilton. He was the only real challenger in the race to the silver arrows, including an overtake on Rosberg. McLaren had a strong afternoon with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finishing decisively, back ahead of Force India in the Constructors’ Championship where they finished the season.
Daniil Kvyat, who qualified an impressive fifth, had a scrappy race and fell back to 14th at the finish.
What will it be remembered for?
That weekend looking back on it I had the feeling and it was echoed on track by all the drivers carrying #JB17. The feeling you had that weekend was, Jules would have wanted the race to carry on and you felt that also in Budapest the following July, after his death.
The winner that weekend wasn’t really important, in the grander sense of things, it was about putting on a good show for Jules. Thou the history books will look back on that weekend as the first constructor’s championship for Mercedes and the real beginning of their dominance of the sport.
Jules we know later died from his injuries in July 2015, like we saw in Budapest the week after his death, Sochi was about him and his Marussia team in the wake of that awful Japanese Grand Prix.
We also saw that weekend how good Hamilton was and arguably you could say that weekend is where the title shifted his way!
Nearly ten years later, Russia would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 which would lead to the termination of the race’s contract in February 2022. It goes down in history as one of two races to be won by one team Benz/Mercedes.