Lewis Hamilton won the Driver of the Weekend poll for the third time in a row, but once again he took little more than a third of the vote.
The Russian Grand Prix was a less than spectacular contest in which few drivers had much chance to show what they were capable of.
Hamilton was largely untroubled after team mate Nico Rosberg took himself out of contention at turn two with a lock-up that resulted in a first lap pit stop. That left Hamilton to lead every lap – he was only denied a grand slam by Valtteri Bottas, who took fastest lap and came in third place in the poll.
Hamilton and Bottas were separated by Jenson Button whose efforts in the McLaren were rewarded more highly than they had been at Suzuka. After an eye-catching performance in practice on Friday Button finished a strong fourth to help McLaren leapfrog Force India and begin to close on Ferrari.
Rosberg’s recovery drive to second, meanwhile, saw him collect fourth place in the poll.
1. Lewis Hamilton
With the exception of first practice Hamilton was on top in every single session over the weekend and it rarely looked like he’d be troubled in any of them, with the exception of qualifying where Bottas briefly looked like he might cause a major upset.
Despite starting on pole and getting at least an equal start to Rosberg however, Hamilton was on the back foot heading into turn two, as Rosberg picked up the tow and dived down the inside.
Yet that very moment likely won Hamilton the race. Rosberg braked too hard and too suddenly and locked up for around 60 metres, flat-spotting his tyres severely enough to require a pit stop on the first lap, and handing Hamilton an untroubled lead.
From then on Hamilton simply had to manage the gap back to Bottas and cruise to the finish, which is exactly what he did to claim his fourth win in a row and extend his championship lead to 17 points.
First practice one aside where they were close, he dominated Rosberg all weekend. Through no fault of his own had a quiet race but had the pace in hand when he needed it towards the end. Not a faultless weekend with spins in first practice, but he nailed it when it really mattered.
Great but he wasn’t under pressure at all. He was coasting the car most of the race; great but uninteresting, and it’s hard to tell since Rosberg was driving like a novice when it mattered the most.
Should go to Hamilton:
FP1 – P2
FP2 – P1
FP3 – P1
Q1 – P1
Q2 – P1
Q3 – P1
Race – P1
2. Jenson Button
Following Friday’s practice sessions it looked like McLaren could well be the main challenger to Mercedes over the course of the weekend, and Button was upbeat about his prospects.
That faded on Saturday morning however as McLaren’s pace disappeared as quickly as it had arrived, but thankfully returned for qualifying, and Button qualified fourth, his best dry qualifying result of the season.
A start similar to those around him saw no change in his position until Rosberg pitted at the end of the first lap, and from then on Button looked like he was on for a podium, only to be denied by Rosberg’s impressive 52-lap run on one set of tyres.
I can’t justify giving this to Hamilton as he had the best car and after turn one Rosberg was no longer a threat. Bottas threw it away on that final qualifying lap so can’t have the vote for the weekend. Therefore Button, a quiet race but a deserved fourth place in a car that doesn’t deserve to be there at the moment.
He had a very clean weekend and did the maximum out of what was realistically available.
3. Valtteri Bottas
Bottas looked quick all weekend and very nearly caused the surprise of the season during qualifying. Having matched Hamilton in the first and second sectors Bottas looked likely to cause an upset, but mistakes in the final two corners ruined any chances.
Like Button behind, a start similar to those around him saw him fail to gain – nor lose – any places, although he moved up to second when Rosberg pitted.
Bottas looked like he might have the pace to challenge Hamilton in the opening stint but steadily dropped back and fell even further behind in the second stint, also losing out on second to Rosberg.
Went for Bottas but to be honest nobody impressed me this weekend.
2014 Driver of the Weekend results
2014 Russian Grand Prix
- Sponsor Watch: 2014 Russian & Japanese Grands Prix
- Three-in-a-row for Hamilton in Driver of the Weekend
- First Russian GP gets one of the lowest-ever ratings
- 2014 Russian Grand Prix fans’ video gallery
- 2014 Russian Grand Prix team radio transcript
Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei