Hello and welcome to ESPN's live coverage of the Russian Grand Prix.


15:02: Rosberg slows the pack right down through the final corner. He doesn't want to sit on the grid on his own for long.


14:58: Rosberg leads the pack off for the formation lap. Everyone gets away cleanly.


14:57: 53 laps this afternoon on what is a 3.6 mile (5.8km) Sochi Autodrom circuit.


14:52: The limited running from practice this weekend opens up the possibility of the unexpected this weekend, though the Mercedes one-lap pace was a pretty ominous marker to put down.


14:47: The anthem -- Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii, in case you are feeling confident in your Russian -- belts out at the front of the grid. The drivers turn and head back to their cars. We're just over 10 minutes away from starting.


14:45: The drivers are heading to the front of the grid for the Russian national anthem.


14:43: Behind that, the Force Indias are in a very good position. Hulkenberg and Perez start sixth and seventh in the impressive B-Spec VJM08. That team has looked so much better since it unleashed that car at Silverstone.


14:41: The long run down to Turn 2 will make the start interesting today. Last year we saw Rosberg use the slipstream to get ahead of Hamilton, only to mess up his entry to the first corner. This year the roles are reversed -- can Hamilton do the same this year? The Mercedes boys also have the fast-starting pair of Bottas and Vettel behind.


14:37: So what can we expect from the race today? The Pirelli strategy predictor said: "Because the teams did not complete many laps of dry running in free practice, it is hard to have a precise indication of strategy for the 53-lap race. However, many teams may choose a one-stop strategy owing to the low wear and degradation levels at Sochi. In which case, the fastest strategy would be to start on the supersoft and then switch to the soft between laps 18 and 22. However some teams wouldn't discount a two stop strategy, especially if race conditions turn out to be warmer".


14:32: The pit lane is open and Carlos Sainz, who was cleared to race this morning after his nasty FP3 crash, is one of the first men out on track.

Lap 1

Lights out, good start from rosberg but Hamilton gets the slipstream of his team-mate but Rosberg holds firm into Turn 2. Good driving from the German and he holds Hamilton at bay.

Hulkenberg and Ericsson have come to blows at Turn 1. Disaster for Force India, Hulkenberg was so well placed coming into this race from sixth on the grid. How has he come together with Ericsson?

Raikkonen has jumped both Bottas and team-mate Vettel and is third.

Replays show Hulkenberg spinning on the exit of Turn 2 and collecting Ericsson. Looks like Verstappen was caught up in it as well. Verstappen's left rear looks damaged, he'll need to pit.

Grosjean pits for soft compound tyres, though its a very, very slow stop as they change the front wing angle. He eventually gets going again.

Lap 2

Safety car stays out. That could be quite a clean up job at the first corner.

Verstappen pits for fresh rubber but crucially gets out beofre the safety car, meaning he won't be a lap down.

Seeing replays again of the start, looks like Bottas' defensive driving on Vettel helped Raikkonen jump to third. Hamilton actually went off the track through the Horseshoe corner and then nearly into the back of Rosberg as his team-mate slowed down for Turn 4 as the safety car was deployed.

Lap 3

The safety car will come in oat the end of the current lap. Rosberg doing well to back the pack up once again.

Lap 4

Rosberg manages the restart perfectly and leads into Turn 2. Bottas uses the slipstream to pass Raikkonen around the outside of Turn 2.

"Excellent move. Nice one," Bottas is told by Williams. It was indeed.

Lap 5

Rosberg sets a fastest lap, a 1:43.415, but reports a problematic clutch pedal.

Vettel is hounding Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen for fourth.

Lap 6

Rosberg sets another fastest lap, a 1:43.410. Bottas doing a good job of keeping Hamilton in his sights, while Vettel gets alongside Raikkonen with DRS but the Finn holds firm through Turn 2. Tasty fight between the Ferrari boys brewing.

The lead just a second.

Rosberg's clutch appears to be sticking, not broken. Not a huge issue but a concern for the race leader.

Lap 7

Fastest lap from Hamilton, a 1:42.888, and he's got ahead of Rosberg! We haven't seen it on the FOM broadcast but Hamilton leads the race!

Replays show Rosberg runs wide at Turn 2 and Hamilton, carrying much more speed of the corner, eased past.

Rosberg has now dropped behind Bottas! Real problems with that throttle pedal for the German driver. Mercedes tells him he needs to manage the situation.

Rosberg pits!

Lap 8

Rosberg crawls to a stop into his pit box. This looks like game over for the German.

"We've switched off for the moment, I don't know if there's anything we can do for the moment."

Rosberg is out of the car!

Lap 9

This means Hamilton is on the verge of the championship, if he gets to the end of the race and wins the race. He'll be 73 points ahead as it stands with 100 points remaining after this weekend. Long way to go yet.

Bottas two seconds down on Hamilton, Raikkonen three seconds behind.

A dejected Rosberg looks on from the Mercedes garage. You've got to feel for him.

Lap 10

Hamilton told he's doing too good a job on fuel saving and can afford to up the pace a bit to build a gap to Bottas.

Bottas' pace currently two tenths quicker than the world champion. The Williams looks very good around here.

Hamilton and Bottas exchanging purple sector times.

Lap 11

Hamilton has upped the pace and sets another fastest lap, a 1:41.946. The gap now three seconds. Raikkonen doing a good job to hold Vettel to around five-six tenths behind.

Grosjean, who has already pitted, is down in 13th but told his pace is competitive compared to the guys its racing. Another depressing shot of McLarens unable to fight down the straights as Sainz flies past Button on the run down to Turn 2.

Kvyat and Ricciardo split by just seven tenths currently.

Lap 12

Ricciardo opens the DRS but can't get anywhere near close enough to even think about a move.

Lap 13

Woah, we have a big, big crash on the exit of Turn 3! It's Grosjean's Lotus. Massive, massive shunt.

Safety car deployed, interesting calls to be made on strategy now.

Thankfully Grosjean is climbing from his absolutely destroyed car.

Perez, Ricciardo, Sainz, Button pit. Hamilton advised to stay left through Turn 3 to avoid debris.

No point the front runners pitting yet with the potential of this race being red flagged. That's a huge shunt.

Replays from the back of accident show Grosjean correct a stab of overteer and just slamming side-on into the Tec-Pro barriers.

Lotus tells Maldonado his team-mate is "absolutely fine".

Alonso pits.

Lap 14

The work to recover Grosjean's car continues.

A despondent Rosberg speaks to TV and calls his failure "unbelievable". Says the throttle pedal moved so much his knee was hitting his steering wheel.

Henrik says: T"his is the second time in three races he has ruined the race of an innocent fellow driver. Also, this time he manage to ruin Räikkönen's brilliant start. With all snide comments about pay drivers etc levelled at others in mind, should an incompetent driver such as Hülkenberg even be in F1?"

He's a Le Mans champion. He spun on cold tyres and happened to catch another car, it happens.

Lap 15

Alonso told he's been given some option tyres, same as Button.

Lots of work going on to fix those Tec-Pro barriers as Grosjean's car is loaded onto a truck.

"This is the slowest the safety car has ever gone, I can't keep the temperature in these tyres," Hamilton tells Mercedes. They'll relay that message on to race control.

Strange that Ferrari didn't pit either of its drivers under safety car. Or at least one of the drivers. Everyone from Perez down has pitted, the top eight have not.

Lap 16

Looks like there's tape being applied to the barriers. Not sure that's the safest solution but looks like work has been completed down there.

Might not be too long away from this race restarting.

Bottas told about Hamilton's complaints about cold tyre temperatures. Advised to think about an attack at the restart.

Safety car in this lap.

There could be some very excited runners lower down the order who have already pitted. Pit stop window for the leaders opens in about 10 laps.

Lap 17

Hamilton manages the restart perfectly and leads into Turn 2.

Vettel gets on the inside of Raikkonen and pushes the Finn wide at Turn 2! Raikkonen has to take the slip road and gets back out in front of Vettel.

Vettel holds off Kvyat and then passes Raikkonen but I imagine the 2007 world champion was told to give that position back up after going off the circuit.

"I have no speed in a straight line!" Raikkonen complains.

Lap 18

Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:41.709. He's already two seconds ahead of Bottas.

Ricciardo moves ahead of Sainz for P10, they go wheel-to-wheel through the Horseshoe and Ricciardo holds firm through that corner and the next right-hander. Sainz not giving up but can't find a way past, great driving from both men.

Lap 19

Replays again show there was no contact between Raikkonen and Vettel into Turn 2.

Sainz being told he is doing an awesome job and that he should "keep pushing".

Perez up to eighth, he's the leader of the drivers who have pitted. Keep an eye on him when all these lead drivers pit later.

Lap 20

Vettel and Raikkonen trade fastest laps but there's three tenths between them. Vettel pulling out a bit of a gap on his team-mate at the moment, with Raikkonen seemingly struggling in a straight line.

Hamilton lapping nearly a second quicker than Bottas. Huge pace advantage for the world champion at the moment.

Nasr and Massa battling for sixth position. Neither man has pitted.

Verstappen tells Toro Rosso his tyres have no grip any more. He pitted on the first lap for new tyres, as well.

Lap 21

Wow. Hamilton has stretched the lead to 4.4s. He's flying.

Vettel starting to close the gap slightly on Bottas but the Williams driver sounds like he's managing his tyres well.

Lap 22

Another fastest lap from Hamilton, a 1:41.336. Bottas, the next man, crosses in 1:42.350.

Massa unable to get close enough to Nasr's Ferrari-powered Sauber for sixth.

Behind them, Perez's lap times still look competitive. He's taken on the yellow-striped soft tyre and could be in a great position for a strong finish later.

Lap 23

Hamilton now leads by 6.3s. Bottas' attention is now on Vettel, who is two seconds behind. That gap is being chipped away at by the Ferrari driver.

Lap 24

Vettel now within 1.5s of Bottas. He's really pushing the Williams. We heard Bottas earlier say deg might be an issue soon, is that hampering the Williams man?

Lap 25

Vettel moving noticeably closer to the gearbox of Bottas' Williams. 1.2s the gap now.

Alonso gets a warning for cutting the apex at Turn 16, the final corner. Sainz also under investigation for cutting the white line on pit entrance.

Lap 26

Sainz gets a five-second penalty for cutting the white line on entrance to the pits.

Mercedes pit crew seems to be ready for a stop.

Lap 27

Under heavy pressure from Vettel, Bottas pits from second. Good tidy stop from Williams, 3.4s. Where will he feed back out? He feeds out in 11th, behind Sainz.

No pit stop for race leader Hamilton yet. He's 30 seconds ahead of Perez, the leader of the drivers who has pitted. Pace he's showing at the moment doesn't suggest he needs to pit any time soon.

Lap 28

Vettel stays out, his lap times are still in the low 1:42s. Bottas has hit traffic for his out lap so some key laps for the German if he wants to stay ahead.

Lap 29

Ferrari now tells Raikkonen that Bottas is stuck in traffic, so it seems the podium is coming the way of both Ferrari drivers.

Lap 30

Hamilton having a lovely Sunday drive, leading by 14.3s.

In the battle for podium, Bottas' times have just improved by two tenths on the Ferrari drivers but will that traffic have cost him? He's still stuck behind the train of cars from eighth to 10th. He has the DRS and passes Sainz for 10th. Lovely driving.

Button tells McLaren his tyres, the super-soft, feel good. Wants to stay on the option compound. He leads Alonso in the McLaren battle for 12th.

Lap 31

Vettel boxes from second. Ferrari tells Raikkonen to push on this next lap, so he'll be the next man in.

This needs to be a good stop to get out ahead of Bottas....it's 2.2s, rapid! Vettel re-emerges ahead of Bottas, with the Red Bull of Ricciardo between them. Great work from Ferrari but Raikkonen will be very interesting as the gap isn't all that big.

Lap 32

Raikkonen's stop is identical to Vettel's earlier.....

He emerges level with Bottas but the Williams driver carriees more speed into Turn 2 and holds third. Raikkonen is right behind Bottas approaching the horseshoe and has to twitch his Ferrari to avoid contact with the Williams ahead.

Mercedes pit crew readies itself for the race leader.

Lap 33

Hamilton pits and is so far ahead of Kvyat that he still gets out ahead.

Replays show Vettel passing Perez for net second position. Perez currently in podium contention but you can't see it lasting with his older tyres and with Ferrari and Williams hot on his heels.

Kvyat will box from second. Red Bull tells him he's racing Button, who is tenth, so that's where they'll want to feed him back on track. .

Lap 34

Great stop from Red Bull and they get him out just ahead of Button. With those ongoing deployment issues for Honda I doubt Button is going to see much more of that Red Bull anymore.

Alonso told he's racing the Mercedes-powered Williams of Massa until the end.

"I love your sense of humour!" Alonso replies.

Lap 35

Alonso's 'battle' with Massa doesn't last long as the Williams driver eases past at Turn 2. Alonso now has the Sauber of Nasr behind, the other Felipe having the benefit of fresh tyres.

Perez and Ricciardo currently third and fourth on those soft tyres having pitted so early but Bottas and Raikkonen are right behind them. Will take a huge effort to stay ahead.

Lap 36

Bottas closes up quickly on Ricciardo at Turn 2 but can't get close enough. He has a look around the outside of Turn 3 but gets onto the marbles. Raikkonen dives down the inside of Bottas at the exit of Turn 4 and they fight through the next sequence of corners. Bottas holds firm and manages to keep the Ferrari at bay. Good racing from the Finns.

Lap 37

With Bottas and Raikkonen scrapping, Red Bull tells Ricciardo to use DRS to get ahead of Perez. Really good scrap brewing for the final spot on the podium.

Replays again show Bottas probably anticipating Raikkonen's lunge down the outside, cutting across the apex to power past Raikkonen again on the exit of Turn 4. The pair then came oh-so-close to touching at the next corner.

Lap 38

Hamilton sets a fastest lap and a new lap record of the Sochi Autodrom, a 1:40.777. He's 13 seconds clear of Vettel.

I wonder what Hulkenberg is thinking watching this? Perez currently third and has two seconds in hand on Ricciardo. The key now is how much those two can keep their tyres together until the end of the race.

Lap 39

Hamilton just in another race entirely. He crosses in a 1:40.965, another fastest lap.

Perez, Ricciardo and Raikkonen all lapping on similar times but Bottas is a few tenths quicker than all of them. He's still 1.4s down on Ricciardo.

In the other Red Bull v Williams battle Massa gets wide coming out of Turn 4 as he tries to get past Kvyat, but the Russian holds firm. That battle currently going on for eighth.

Replays of that one again show Massa having a moment on the marbles on the entry to Turn 4 and doing well to keep his car pointing the right way.

Lap 40

Perez will owe Ricciardo a pint if he is still third when the chequered flag falls. Ricciardo currently backing Bottas into Raikkonen at the moment, taking a bit out of all their tyres.

Lap 41

Hats off to Sainz, who is seventh after his big crash yesterday. Great job.

Lap 42

"Checo you're still P3 but to make it work we need maximum work on the fronts," Force India tells Perez about his front tyres. "I'm doing all I can man. I can't do any more than this," is the reply.

Bottas is starting to move back to within DRS range of Ricciardo.

Lap 43

Perez tells Force India he's struggling with his front right.

"Management this lap was good," Force India tells the Mexican.

Vettel sets a fastest lap, a 1:40.532. He's 12 seconds behind Hamilton.

Bottas and Raikkonen really need to clear Ricciardo soon if they want to get on the podium.

Lap 44

Replays show Maldonado passing Button for 11th at Turn 2. Verstappen runs wide at the same corner while trying to pass Alonso.

Massa has passed Kvyat for eighth at Turn 13. Sainz is the next man up the road by nine seconds.

"Perez is starting to struggle badly, we can still get this podium" Bottas is told.

Lap 45

Perez's lap times don't suggest he's struggling significantly at the moment.

Bottas passes Ricciardo with the help of DRS. Now he can start to chase down Perez's Force India, which is two seconds up the road. Seems both Bottas and Raikkonen have been a bit more patient in the last few laps than I gave them credit for.

Lap 46

"Brilliant stuff, now let's get Perez, he's starting to struggle with his tyres," Williams tells Bottas.

Raikkonen passes Raikkonen at Turn 2 but carries too much speed, goes wide and re-joins ahead of the Red Bull. Raikkonen hands the position back to Ricciardo and will have to try again next time around.

Sainz has spun on circuit and dropped behind Massa and Kvyat, meaning he's now ninth.

Replays again show Raikkonen carried too much speed into the corner.

Lap 47

Looks like Sainz's right front brakes were glowing as he spun out of seventh. He's now sitting backwards in the same barrier he went into yesterday and he gets going again but he drops a huge piece of his rear wing into the middle of the circuit!

Yellow flags out, will this require a late safety car? Doesn't look like it has stayed on the circuit.

Lap 48

Raikkonen all over the back of Ricciardo down the pit straight and makes light work of him with DRS open.

Bottas now within DRS range of Perez, eight tenths down. He's got six laps to make a move for the final spot on the podium.

Lap 49

Replays show a steward running across the track to collect the piece of debris! Vettel remarks "The debris has gone but we have a very brave Russian marshal on track".

Ricciardo has pulled over to the side of the race track, freeing up Raikkonen finally. The Ferrari driver responds to the clear air with a fastest lap.

Lap 50

Bottas opens up DRS but can't get close enough to Perez. He's going to have three more attempts at that part of the track. He should have the pace to keep him behind but good job from Perez.

Replays show Raikkonen had already got by Ricciardo when he started complaining about a broken suspension. Looks like the Australian was struggling to keep it in a straight line before pulling over at Turn 8.

Yellow flags through the middle sector helping Perez's cause a little bit. Bottas will be wary of the charging Raikkonen closing up behind him, too. Could be a grandstand finish.

Hamilton warned about some "suspect performance" from the rear wing. He's 11 seconds clear but will just be thinking about bringing the car home now.

Lap 51

Bottas still no closer to passing Perez for third.

Hamilton being told not to use DRS as a precaution as he closes in on the chequered flag. He would only get it when passing traffic.

Bottas is now all over the back of Perez, helped by the absence of yellow flags in the middle sector.

Lap 52

Fastest lap from Vettel narrows the gap to Hamilton to eight seconds. Bottas told to go to engine mode one after some wheelspin through the final corner and he isn't close enough to pass for third!

Raikkonen right up with both of them as well. Perez might just do this! One and a half laps left for a place on the podium.

Bottas down the inside of Turn 13! Raikkonen follows suit out of the corner. Brilliant driving from the Finns. Perez drops from third to fifth in the space of a corner and now Raikkonen all over the back of Bottas!

Lap 53

Raikkonen opens up the DRS and Bottas stays in engine mode one - maximum power - and keeps Raikkonen at bay.

Raikkonen goes for it at Turn 4 and clobbers Bottas! Bottas sat in the fence and is out. Raikkonen crawling around but Perez is going to score a podium after all thatr!

Hamilton wins the Russian Grand Prix and takes a huge step to a third world championship. Vettel second, and what a podium for Sergio Perez! Force India celebrate wildly on the pit wall, their third-ever podium.

All that late Mandess means Massa finishes fourth, Raikkonen crawls home to fifth. Bottas is climbing out of his Williams at Turn 4. Great late drama!

Replays again show Raikkonen carrying way too much pace into Turn 4 down the inside. That incident already under investigation and Raikkonen might be in a bit of trouble after this one.

"What the f*** did he do!?" is Bottas' radio call.

"Well done Lewis, great job mate," Peter Bonnington tells Hamilton. He was in control from the moment Rosberg dropped out of the radio.

Some nifty Russian style hats for the top three. Some awkward handshakes with Vladimir Putin before the podium ceremony.

Putin nearly gets a faceful of champagne from Hamilton after the national anthems but the Russian president manages to dodge out of the way. Perez and Force India enjoying their return to the podium - a first since the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix.

I reckon a penalty is forthcoming for Raikkonen so stay tuned for what the stewards decide on with us. Thanks for joining us this weekend, please do come back again for Austin.