Nico Rosberg has won his seventh grand prix in succession with victory at the fourth round of the 2016 Formula One championship in Russia.
The German avoided the carnage at the first turn and a mid-race charge from team-mate Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag in another dominant performance.
Having started form pole, Rosberg raced clear of a clash between Daniil Kvyat and Sebastian Vettel at Turn 2, the pair making contact a little further up the road which put the Ferrari driver out of the race.
Kvyat had missed his braking marker and nudged the rear of Vettel’s car, the Russian then finding the back of the Ferrari around Turn 3 which pitched the former world champion into the wall.
Further back there was contact between Esteban Gutierrez and Nick Hulkenberg as debris littered the circuit.
The safety car was called for, with Hamilton moving from tenth to fifth on the opening lap.
Red Bull made a strategic derision to switch to medium compound tyres on both cars at the end of the first lap, a decision which would prove disastrous to their race result.
The team had gambled on running longer on the harder compound tyre and saving a pit stop later in the race, but lost too much time in comparison to those on the softer compound rubber and were forced to abandon the plan later in the race.
Hamilton quickly moved into fourth place before engaging in battle with Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas for second.
Bottas held the upper hand until the pit stops, and though the Finn held the upper hand once the stops were completed Hamilton soon passed the Williams to claim the spot.
A lap later Raikkonen too got by, using strategy to his advantage to leapfrog his countryman.
Hamilton then began closing on race leader Rosberg, who’d built up a comfortable 12 second margin out front, only for his charge to be halted with a water pressure problem.
It saw the gap blow back out to Rosberg, though Hamilton remained comfortably ahead of Raikkonen to record a Mercedes 1-2.
For Rosberg it was his seventh consecutive race win, with three victories to end 2015 and four at the start of 2016.
He also now leads the world championship by 43 points over Hamilton, though there remain 17 grands prix in the 2016 season.
Daniel Ricciardo ended the race outside the points in 11th while both McLaren’s made the points for the first time since last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
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