Lewis Hamilton has scored the 100th victory of his Formula 1 career in memorable fashion when a downpour hit the Sochi Autodrom in the dying laps of the Russian Grand Prix.Lando Norris when the rain hit: The McLaren driver’s decision to stick with slick tyres cost him dearly when the conditions suddenly worsened. Norris spun off as Hamilton passed him, and fell to seventh place at the finish.
Carlos Sainz Jnr took the lead from pole winner Norris at the start of the race and stayed ahead for the first 12 laps. Norris passed him for the lead on track, following which Sainz pitted.
McLaren left Norris out much longer. In the meantime Daniel Ricciardo pitted but suffered a very slow stop, promoting Hamilton into second place. The Mercedes driver pitted before the race leader, but once Norris and the rest had made their stops the pair returned to the front of the field.
Hamilton cut into Norris’ lead, reducing it to one-and-a-half seconds with 10 laps to go. He was stalking his rival when the rain hit.
At one stage in the race Hamilton appeared under threat from championship rival Max Verstappen. Starting on hard tyres while most opted for mediums, Verstappen worked his way forward quickly, putting a vital pass on Valtteri Bottas for 14th place on lap six. He dropped back in his second stint in mediums, but timed his switch to intermediates well to finish a remarkable second, 53 seconds behind the Mercedes.
Sainz salvaged third place after being among the first to switch to intermediate tyres. The late downpour shook up the finishing order and lifted Valtteri Bottas, who spent much of the race in 14th, to fifth behind Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso briefly rose to third after staying out on slicks, but also had to dive for the pits, falling to sixth ahead of Norris.
Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and George Russell completed the points scorers.
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2021 Russian Grand Prix reaction
- Sochi disappointment will make Norris and McLaren stronger, says Seidl
- F1 race start times could be brought forward to avoid Spa-style wash-outs
- New technology in Ferrari’s power unit update vital for 2022 – Binotto
- Mercedes have left too many points on the table, admits Wolff
- We made too many mistakes and didn’t deserve points – Gasly
- Sainz calls Sochi “definitely my best weekend for Ferrari” after podium
- The signs Mercedes didn’t sacrifice Bottas to help Hamilton through “tactical” engine change
- Hamilton at risk of penalties as Mercedes admit “question marks” over power units
- Radio messages reveal how Ricciardo made the “black and white” tyre call Norris missed
- The grey area Alonso exploited with his first-lap corner-cut at Sochi
- Leclerc suspects Norris will feel “very guilty” over lost win
- Russell pleased with “really strong performance” despite drop from third to tenth
- Bottas “could have been on the podium” with earlier pit stop
- “We never get lucky” rues Alonso after losing podium finish
- Verstappen made “great call” on tyres to claim second place – Horner
- Norris keeps seventh after reprimand for pit entry error
- Staying on slicks “was no gamble” with information I had – Norris