At the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, newly-minted constructers’ champions Mercedes pulled off a 1-2 for the third time in the last four Grand Prix, and the ninth time this season, with Lewis Hamilton passing the chequered flag more than 14 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton has turned a 20-point deficit in the drivers’ championship into a 17-point lead since being gifted the Italian GP at Monza in an act of repentance by his 29-year-old teammate, who had cost both the chance of victory in Belgium through reckless driving.
Four wins on the spin see the Stevenage native at 2/9 to win only his second F1 title, the other coming in 2008, with Rosberg hard to fancy all the way back at 10/3 considering the dominant current form of his Mercedes’ brethren.
However, the German manufacturers weren’t the only show in Sochi by any means and the outcome of the first F1 run-out in Russia may well have been altered, if only marginally, had Valtteri Bottas held a decent line going into the final corner on his last qualifying lap.
The Finn was set for pole position before taking too wide a birth at the last turn, losing valuable fractions of a second, but Bottas had clearly shelved such disappointment by Sunday, finishing a creditable third and posting the fastest lap.
That was the first time since a three-race mid-season spell, when neither Hamilton nor Rosberg could manage fastest laps, that anyone but Mercedes has achieved said feat.
Bottas will no doubt remain a massive price to repeat that feat or claim poll when F1 rolls into Austin, Texas next time out for the USA Grand Prix, but an even more intriguing contender in the Lone Star State could be 20-year-old Russian scholar of the Red Bull Academy, Daniil Kvyat.
The Torro Rosso tyro will replace Ferrari-bound Sebastian Vettel as three-time 2014 podium topper Daniel Ricciardo’s partner at the Austrian giants next term, a combination team principle Christian Horner has already called ‘The Double Ds’.
After Kvyat shocked a jubilant Sochi crowd by out-qualifying both Vettel and Ricciardo, starting a nose-bleed inducing fifth on the grid in the first running of his home Grand Prix, Horner can look forward to 2015 knowing his team have the right men in place behind the wheel.
That being said, with Red Bull currently closer in points to third-placed Williams than champions Mercedes, Horner has plenty of work ahead of him in the garage.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.