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Historic win for Mercedes in Russia overshadowed by Bianchi tribute

By Sarah Holt, CNN
updated 5:15 PM EDT, Sun October 12, 2014
There are subdued scenes in Sochi as the Formula One drivers hold a minute's silence before the race in respect for stricken Marussia racer Jules Bianchi, who was seriously injured at the Japanese Grand Prix. There are subdued scenes in Sochi as the Formula One drivers hold a minute's silence before the race in respect for stricken Marussia racer Jules Bianchi, who was seriously injured at the Japanese Grand Prix.
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Silent tribute for Bianchi
Marussia pay respects
Home hero
Kvyat question time
F1 takes off in Russia
Rosberg overcooks it
Olympic park life
Presidential approval
Feel the flow
Rivalry on hold
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lewis Hamilton wins the inaugural Russian Grand Prix from Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg
  • The Mercedes one-two in Sochi secures the team's first constructors' title
  • Mercedes chief Toto Wolff says: "We don't forget about Jules"
  • The drivers held a minute's silence on the grid for stricken Marussia driver Jules Bianchi

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(CNN) -- The seesawing emotional highs and lows that infuse motor racing were perfectly illustrated at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton raced to an easy victory at the Sochi circuit on Sunday to secure a first-ever team title for Mercedes.

The champagne bubbled in plastic cups and there were raucous renditions of "We Are The Champions" from the team garage.

But Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff brought the revelers back to earth with a dose of reality.

"We don't forget about Jules," he told Sky television after the race. "This is still overshadowing everything we do. The sport is a side story."

F1 driver suffered serious brain injury
F1 driver Jules Bianchi injured in crash
Inside the Mercedes engine

The Formula One community had a clear message in Russia -- it was racing for stricken Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who is seriously ill after an accident seven days ago at the Japanese round of the world championship.

His family revealed in a statement Thursday, the 25-year-old Frenchman had suffered a "diffuse axonal injury," and was in a critical but stable condition at the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, Japan.

The remaining 21 race drivers in Russia assembled at the front of the grid in a moving show of support for the popular Bianchi.

They held a minute's silence in respect of their colleague before climbing into their cars.

Marussia chose not to run Bianchi's car in Russia. Instead it stood in tribute on his side of the garage.

On Sunday, members of the team gathered together on the grid with their sole driver Max Chilton holding a pit board that read: "Racing for Jules."

Chilton, however, retired from the race after just nine laps with an unspecified problem with his car.

"It hasn't been an easy day, far from it, and all the guys have had to dig deep to get us to the grid," he said.

"It was very emotional with all the support for Jules. I think the team, the sport and all the fans have really done him proud.

"Somehow we need to find the strength to regroup and move forward, which is hard to contemplate right now."

Rosberg: 'We definitely haven't peaked'
Racing through Sochi Autodrom
When Silver Arrows dominated F1

At the front of the field, Hamilton raced to a flawless victory to extend his lead in the drivers' championship to 17 points over his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

"The car's been amazing this weekend and I really, really enjoyed the track," said Hamilton, who won the world title in 2008 with McLaren.

"Russia's been one of my favorite places so far this year, so it's very cool to have won the first race here."

Hamilton started in pole position and in his eagerness to swoop past him at the start, Rosberg locked up his tires going into the second corner and ran wide.

The German immediately pitted for a new set of tires and rejoined the race in a lowly 20th position.

Rosberg demonstrated his skill to make the rubber last for another 52 laps as he fought his way back up to second but it was another impatient mistake that dented his title chances.

"Half of me is extremely disappointed that I messed up today," Rosberg said. "But the other half, I'm really, really happy, because everybody in the team deserves it so much.

"For them the most important title of the year is the constructors' championship."

Valtteri Bottas underlined his form by taking the final podium spot in a straightforward race for Williams for his fifth podium of the season.

Despite the subdued atmosphere in F1's inner circle, there was a feeling of national pride at the Sochi circuit, which has breathed new life into the coastal park used for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

A near capacity crowd of 55,000 fans came to the race, the first Russian Grand Prix in 100 years and the first ever in the world championship.

President Putin made an unusual guest appearance at the end of the race, visiting the drivers in the waiting room before handing out the trophies on the podium.

It is reported that Russia is paying $50m a year to host the race.

F1 returns to racing at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas in three weeks' time, while its close band of drivers anxiously await better news from Japan.

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