Formula One: Alonso out before crash halts race

Fernando Alonso retired before a crash triggered a red-flagged first lap Safety Car in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix when Frenchman Romain Grosjean collided with Briton Jolyon Palmer.

The two-time champion had just trudged back to the McLaren Honda pits after abandoning his car at the side of the pit entry road when the race was stopped.

He had failed to complete the first formation lap.

An instant decision followed to take an additional safety lap before the start, which was followed immediately by a spectacular opening lap.

As the lights went out, Finn Valtteri Bottas enjoyed a perfect getaway to take the lead for Mercedes ahead of the two Ferraris before Grosjean of Haas colliced with Palmer's Renault.

Both cars were damaged in the accident at Turn Two and were out of the race with both drivers climbing out undamaged from the debris.

On the re-start, after a six-minute stoppage, Bottas was away swiftly to stay in charge ahead of four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Finn Kimi Raikkonen.

Three-time champion Briton Lewis Hamilton was down in fourth in the second Mercedes.