Lewis Hamilton may have moved to within touching distance of his third world championship in Russia on Sunday, but he did spare a thought for Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg after the German saw his title hopes fall apart following a second retirement in four races.
Rosberg had hoped to cut the 48-point gap to Hamilton in Russia, and was in a strong position to do so after scoring pole position on Saturday and retaining the lead in the opening phase of the race.
However, an issue with his throttle forced him to retire from the race after just seven laps, allowing Hamilton to extend his advantage over his teammate to 73 points.
Hamilton was not immune to technical issues, though, as a problem with his rear wing prompted concern at Mercedes in the closing stages of the race. Ultimately, the Briton was able to manage the issue and cross the line to record his ninth win of the season.
“I don’t really know what was wrong with the car,” Hamilton admitted after the race. “I don’t think it was DRS but there was something happening to the rear end which was the reason that the pace started to decrease.”
Reliability was one of Mercedes’ weakest areas in 2014, but the team appeared to have resolved many of its issues earlier in 2015 after suffering zero retirements in the opening 11 rounds of the season. However, three retirements in the last four races (two for Rosberg, one for Hamilton) has blotted this record.
Speaking after his victory, Hamilton sympathized with Rosberg following his DNF and admitted that the issues were a concern for Mercedes.
“Reliability, of course, is something that we’ve focused on a huge amount over the last year and a half,” Hamilton said.
“We are struggling or having a little bit more problems with it and Nico’s been incredibly unfortunate to suffer the worst.
“I honestly don’t know what happened to his car so I can’t really comment on it but I know that we’ll be working as hard as we can to rectify it and hope that in these next races we don’t have a problem, but of course it is a concern for us.”