Lewis Hamilton is on the brink of becoming just the 10th man in F1 history to win three world championships after he helped Mercedes clinch the Constructors’ title for a second successive year with a typically supreme display of driving at the Russian GP.
The defending world champion has been in a class of his own all season and he moved to within touching distance of back-to-back F1 titles with victory at the Sochi Autodrom.
Hamilton’s triumph in Russia, his second at the track located within the former Olympic Park that played host to the 2014 Winter Olympics, means it is possible that he could seal the title in Austin.
Hamilton took the lead on Sunday when his Mercedes AMG Petronas team-mate Nico Rosberg encountered a throttle problem with his car.
Rosberg had led from the start and was in a commanding position until his problems began and ultimately forced him to retire from the race, and once in the lead, Hamilton controlled the pace to cruise to the chequered flag for his ninth victory of the season.
He was presented with his winner’s trophy on the podium by Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who had watched the race alongside F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in VIP area of the Sochi Autodrom.
Hamilton said: “This was another amazing day.
“The guys at Mercedes have given me a great car to drive and it felt really good. This season is beginning to feel really good, and although the title is quite close, I am not going to say it is done and dusted because anything can happen in this sport.”
Rosberg said afterwards: “It was a great shame to retire from the Russian Grand Prix.
“Again, I suffered a small technical issue with my car and that prevented me from finishing or being able to challenge for victory.
“I was in the lead and I think I could have stayed in that position until the end.”
Courtesy of Hamilton’s victory, the Brackley-based Mercedes squad were able to celebrate the winning of the Constructors’ Championship for a second straight season.
At first. Hamilton’s 25 points haul did not enable the team to wrap up the title in Russia, but a post race penalty to Kimi Raikkonen, for his part in a last lap crash with Valtteri Bottas, saw him relegated down the order, which was enough for Mercedes.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes motorsport boss, said: “I would like to thank Lewis and Nico for all their hard work in driving our Silver Arrows, but this success is due to the hard work and dedication of our staff at our two facilities in Brackley and Brixworth.
“The staff have made this result possible and I hope we can reward them with a Drivers’ championship as well.”
Sergio Perez, driving for the Silverstone-based Sahara Force India team, finished the race in third position.
Standings: 1. Hamilton, 302pts; 2. Vettel, 236pts; 3. Rosberg, 229pts. Next race: October 25 – United States.