Vettel mugged in Russia as Hamilton recovers behind Mr 100

As many expected it was victory for Nico Rosberg in Sochi, with Hamilton recovering from tenth place to claim P2 and the always excitable Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the podium.

"I'm aware of the fact that my direct competitor had a couple of mishaps, but I'm enjoying the moment and loving winning races - now i'm looking forward to what's to come," said a surprisingly muted Rosberg.

"A straight fight with Lewis is what I'm here for, I'm looking forward to it happening again, and as always it'll be a tough battle," explained Nico. "The ecstatic feeling isn't there, it's there when I win a battle against Lewis."

The win gives Rosberg a perfect 100 points from the first four races ahead of Hamilton on only 57 and Kimi Raikkonen on 43. It was damage limitation for Lewis, who started from P10 after an engine issue in qualifying limited his running and it required flying old engine parts overnight to track help him avoid even further penalties.

"We were doing 800kms per day in testing, the car seemed bulletproof," said a bewildered Hamilton, who also put to bed the lingering rumours that the team might be somehow hampering his efforts and helping Nico, despite the team switching the drivers' engineers this year "for no apparent reason."

On the opening lap Vettel was mugged by Kvyat who locked up his brakes and shunted him from behind, then clipped his rear again sending Vettel into the wall and suffocating the German’s championship hopes.

"I don't feel great, but sometimes these things happen in F1," said Kvyat, "I'll of-course apologise to everyone involved and learn from it."

Vettel wasn’t sure whether he had picked up a puncture after the initial contact, and didn't attack the following corner with full throttle as expected. It didn’t stop Vettel unloading a torrent of abuse over the radio. After Kvyat embarrassed Vettel with his racing nouse in China, he undid all of his good work and surely won’t be seeing Vettel in an ugly jumper on a personalised Christmas card any time soon.

At the fourth most engine-intensive track on the calendar, McLaren Honda managed to get both of their drivers into the points, with Alonso especially impressive claiming sixth place.

"We have the pace, I think we had the fifth fastest lap of the race. The car keeps growing, today was more normal pace and being in the points should be the target from now on," said Alonso.

"There are some circuits now that will suit even better our car; Barcelona and Monaco," added an optimistic Fernando.

Kevin Magnussen held on to score the first potassium filled points for Team Banana, while a disappointing showing from Toro Rosso saw Verstappen retire with an engine failure and Sainz drop out of the points and slugged with a questionable 10-second penalty for closing the door on Jolyon Palmer during the middle phase of the race.

Rosberg joins an elite group of drivers that have won seven consecutive races and although Hamilton's challenge has been largely muted thus far, things are looking difficult for his title defence.