Lewis Hamilton wins the Russian Grand Prix to become the first F1 driver to reach a century of victories after a chaotic finale that saw fellow Brit Lando Norris surrender the lead late on in Sochi
- Lewis Hamilton dramatically won the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi in the rain
- Title rival Max Verstappen came in second after working his way up from last
- McLaren’s Lando Norris led the race for a long time but fell back near the end
- Brit star Hamilton started from fourth on the grid but moved his way up slowly
- The Dutchman Verstappen started from last place after penalty for engine use
- Hamilton trailed his Red Bull rival by five points in the championship standings
It was appropriate that Lewis Hamilton’s 100th win should come courtesy of the rain gods with whom he has partied so often across the 14 years and 108 days between his first victory and his unmatched century.
But, heavens above, it was cruel for Lando Norris, one the British boys dreaming of emulating a little of what the seven-time world champion has achieved.
For Hamilton, smiles. For Norris, tears. He had come within two laps of winning the Russian Grand Prix, of registering would have been his first victory at the age of 21, but he finished seventh after failing to change tyres as the clouds opened.
Lewis Hamilton won the 100th Formula One race of his career on a dramatic day in Sochi
The Mercedes driver secured a century of wins at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon
Hamilton did all he could but Verstappen’s second means the Brit only leads him by two points
A fair while later, as dusk fell, the McLaren driver thumped his thigh in infuriation at an unguarded moment as he walked from one media inquisition to the next. He briefly broke down mid-interview.
For much of the afternoon he had us on the edge of our seats here in Sochi wondering if he could become the youngest British winner in Formula One. He started on pole, was passed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who capitalised on the tow offered by the long drag into the first braking zone, and retook the lead on lap 13. From then he produced a fluent, mature display.
But Hamilton, after a poor start and a mediocre middle from fourth on the grid, was right into his stride and on Norris’ tail as the climax beckoned. The hunted Lando kept his cool. If the rain had hit this Black Sea resort 10 minutes later he would have climbed to the top of the podium.
The question was whether to stay out on slicks or come in for intermediates. The dilemma was put to Norris by race engineer Will Joseph: ‘Inters?’
‘No!’ Norris screamed. So he stayed out. Hamilton was called in for the crucial rebooting against his expressed instincts with four laps to play out. Norris persevered in his high heels.
Spits turned into a sprinkle. A sprinkle turned into drizzle. Drizzle turned into rain.
Hamilton commiserated with his compatriot Lando Norris after Norris fell away near the end
Hamilton, more experienced at 36, had listened to his pit wall. Norris, admittedly with everything to lose, paid a high price for sticking to his guns. He was soon skating all over the show and finally conceded he needed to put on his wellies.
‘It is heartbreaking,’ said Norris. ‘It is a terrible feeling to be on the verge of winning a grand prix and then losing it, not because of a silly error but in this kind of way.
‘Staying out wasn’t a gamble at all. I was told it would not be raining hard, so staying on slicks was the right call. They were the best tyres. It was just that the rain got harder than I was told or the team knew. We need to go talk through that. But I have to stand by my decision.’
Well, if only they had followed Mercedes’ lead as their pit crew gathered for their pivotal stop! Norris would likely have won. He would certainly have finished at least second. As it was, Max Verstappen was runner-up, remarkably zooming up from the back of the grid in his rampant Red Bull.
Hamilton’s team congratulated him – but the 36-year-old owed a debt of gratitude to their plan
Sainz finished third for Ferrari. The Spaniard is driving well. By the way, is Charles Leclerc, who finished 15th, still the Scuderia’s No 1?
Hamilton’s triumph meant he retook the championship lead for the first time since leaving Silverstone victorious in July. He leads Verstappen by two points with seven rounds remaining. Yes, it was a good day for the winner, to an extent, but a layer of sparkle was rubbed off by his sole rival’s tangible damage limitation after he was penalised for taking a new engine.
We should take a moment to celebrate the sheer scale of Hamilton’s century. Michael Schumacher won 91 times, a record that seemed beyond reach when he took his leave of Ferrari at the end of 2006 with a fine drive in Brazil.
Undoubtedly, Hamilton has been helped to his peaks by a Mercedes car that has dominated the field and made his rich harvest easier to pick. And there are more races on the calendar than ever, too.
But to have sustained his level of performance from his maiden win in Canada in June 2007 until Sunday, and counting, suggests his numbers will remain unsurpassed for a long while if not eternity. He has done it in the wet, in the dry, in the day and in the dark.
With the rain worsening, his team encouraged him to come in – it proved to be a masterstroke
Hamilton and Norris spoke in the paddock afterwards, both smiling and joshing. Hamilton said of the man who on Saturday took from him the distinction of being Britain’s youngest ever pole sitter: ‘I sympathise with Lando. He is so young, and has so many wins ahead of him.
‘He did a fantastic job yesterday. He is doing a great job leading that team. McLaren won the last race with Daniel (Ricciardo). They are now hard to beat for all of us.
‘My decision to come in was just blind faith in the team. They called me in and I believed them. That is part of our journey together.
‘They were 100 per cent right. I had to play my role to get us in that position in order for it to work, but team work makes the dream work.’
Memo to Lando and McLaren.
But Red Bull and Dutchman Verstappen will be very pleased having started last and finished P2
Follow play-by-play Formula One coverage of the Russian Grand Prix from Sportsmail‘s MAX MATHEWS below, with all the updates from a dramatic race.
What. A. Race.
The fantastic Jonathan McEvoy’s race report is right here.
Thanks for following today – hope you enjoyed it!
Lewis Hamilton wins! From Max Verstappen in second! Lando Norris might come in eighth, and McLaren are absolutely gutted.
Engineers looking like they might cry.
Here comes Lewis…
He’s come back from the pits in sixth.
His team were suggesting he came in but you have to go with the thoughts of your driver…
I think Mercedes insisting Hamilton came in with the rain worsening was the right call in hindsight.
Oh, and now Norris will gain a penalty after some shenanigans in the pit lane.
The McLaren driver was desperately trying to hang on but just slid off, horribly.
Such a shame for the Brit with his first ever race win beckoning.
Lewis, in second, had the chance to take a risk and it’s paid off!
Tragedy for Norris. Hamilton in first! Verstappen up to third!
Bambi on ice here for Lando! He’s slipping all over the place!
Hamilton’s catching, Hamilton’s catching…
This is exciting.
Can Hamilton catch Norris?
Hamilton with the twist, Norris with the stick. Hamilton gaining ground rapidly…
Hamilton wanted to stick I think but his team told him to come in!
Norris does NOT want to change his tyres and he’ll carry on with his current tyres.
Hamilton pits though! He changes onto the rain-specialist ‘inter’ tyres in the anticipation of rain.
Will that decide this race? We’ll see…
Lando Norris doesn’t want his team telling him how slippery it is! He knows well enough!
Can he surivive this late Hamilton onslaught?!
Team-mates Vettel and Stroll actually touch there!
Mercedes waiting for Hamilton to pit but he’s racing down the back straight!
Norris and Hamilton get to the wet part of the track and he slips wide!
Hamilton now just 0.3seconds behind Norris!
Hamilton almost shunting Norris now! He’s got DRS too.
The rain sign is flashing…
This is not what Lando Norris wants in his bid for his first win!
How risky will Hamilton play it? Will he push for the win? Or take second?
Things getting wet!
Hamilton has cut that 1.5sec gap to nearly 1 sec – almost at that DRS usage range…
This is going right to the wire!
…Mercedes tell Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton now just one and a half seconds behind leader Norris.
Norris going for his first race win, Hamilton going for his 100th! Is there a twist at the end of the race?
Norris, Hamilton, Sainz, Ricciardo, Perez.
If things stay like this, Hamilton will grab 19 points and Verstappen six. With Verstappen’s current five-point lead, the Brit will move EIGHT CLEAR of the Dutchman.
Not the worst result for Verstappen but a decent swing for Lewis!
That’s IF things stay as they are. Things could very well change.
Norris and Hamilton P1 and P2.
McLaren telling Norris who’s in third and fourth and… “Yeah yeah yeah”, Norris cuts them off.
He wants the win! And why wouldn’t you?! First pole, first position, he can still win this! Let him have a go!
But it’s a poor pit stop from Checo Perez, nearly nine seconds! Perez now back in fifth, ahead of team-mate Verstappen!
Will he give Max the wave along?
Lewis Hamilton is pleased with his car!
His team agrees too.
Neither Perez nor Alonso have pitted yet. If it rains everyone will have to pit again, which is what those two are hoping for!
Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton up to fifth now! He’s gone past Gasly and Sainz – lovely overtakes and now he has free air to work with.
Good news for the Brit… 1.38.2 too – the fastest lap.
Only two in the whole race on the medium tyres – Max and Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen is absolutely gunning it around the track, posting 1.38s. Quick.
The Red Bull driver could be on a two-stop strategy then…
Such good timing for Norris. Quick, efficient, and Norris comes out in clear air into fourth.
Verstappen up to 11th, Hamilton ninth. Only Ricciardo between the title rivals!
Lando into the pits…
…McLaren radio asks Lando Norris.
He’s posting 1.41 lap times, nice and regular and consistent. The fastest laps are at about 1.39 so he’s doing well!
McLaren now tell him to go 100 per cent for the next little bit – they’ll call him in soon for the last time I think.
VERY quick pit from Mercedes. Impressive.
Verstappen’s stop is a bit tardier. Hamilton comes out in ninth, Verstappen in 12th. Decent result for them.
Oof, Max is frustrated.
Lewis sets a fastest lap time in that clean air, and is consolidating his P2. Verstappen’s thinking about catching Lewis!
Commentators say – and I agree – he should focus on himself. Don’t try to race Hamilton, at least yet. Finish as high as you can but don’t aim too high and crash out, Max…
Never a good thing to hear from a driver, especially in F1.
Max Verstappen’s not happy with his car… will he get called in soon?
Hamilton now in P2 behind leader Lando Norris, and in lots of clean air.
Mercedes should probably keep him out then!
Ricciardo in the pit lane! Hard compound tyre ready for him!
Oh no, a bad pit stop, and the Aussie comes out in 14th, behind Esteban Ocon.
Interesting. The track is settling down a bit! There was a lot of ‘deg’ – tyre degradation – and it was really wearing the tyres and cars down.
But there’s more rubber on the track now, apparently, which means holding on for a later pit stop (like Hamilton and Verstappen have done) could be a good move.
Will their patience be rewarded?
A reminder of the top five as it stands…
Norris, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Perez, Alonso.
Verstappen’s making ground on Alonso in fifth…
Hamilton is third, Verstappen sixth. Neither has stopped yet but they’re not far off considering Hamilton started fourth and Verstappen last!
Other drivers are getting a big undercut from their pit stops…
Hamilton and Norris will have to at least be THINKING about pitting.
Norris is happy to carry on for a moment but his pace is right down compared to those in clean air and with fresh tyres!
Simple, two-word message from Lando to his team.
He has got it, too. Lance Stroll in the Aston Martin made a pit stop at a great time – he got fresh tyres, came out in a massive gap of 11 seconds.
That means he had a run in nice clean air with fresh tyres, allowing him to record some quick times and push right up the field.
But Norris is now in the lead! A bold move past Sainz and the Brit leads again!
Could that mean Norris, in second, is about to pit? Stroll does bite the bullet and goes in.
Verstappen sticks his nose in up the inside, nearly or maybe touching Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. He eventually pulls out but Leclerc looks spooked and Verstappen gets him very shortly after!
He asks his radio if that overtake was OK. Looked just about alright to me!
OOOH, Lando Norris NEARLY overtakes Carlos Sainz but the Spaniard just about holds on.
Russell in third being told to ‘lift and coast’, protecting his car and his tyres. P3 would be great for Williams.
Carlos Sainz being told to protect his tyres a bit. Does Lando Norris have an opportunity to grab P1 back now?
P11-14 is currently Vettel, Leclerc, Verstappen, Gasly. Some big names there!
Paul di Resta suggesting Gasly, potentially a Red Bull target, may have been quietly and indirectly asked by Red Bull boss Christian Horner not to hold up Verstappen too much.
I couldn’t possibly comment.
That’s Ferrari’s advice to leader Carlos Sainz. Maybe encouraging him to do a one-stopper?
Verstappen channeling Heather Small there!
IF Mercedes put Bottas back there to hold up the Dutchman, it’s not worked – he’s already past him seven laps in!
A fine overtake, but Bottas didn’t really do much to defend his position. Weird.
Sainz is in a great position! He’s about eight seconds ahead of third and 10 seconds ahead of Lewis!
Norris, who was on pole, is a second behind him, but those two are well clear of the competition.
Hamilton is stuck behind Ricciardo in fifth, meaning Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez is gaining ground on him in seventh…
The team-mates of the title rivals could be crucial today!
Bottas in 14th, Verstappen in 16th. The Finn will do battle with the Red Bull driver soon you’d reckon…
Bottas absolutely racing around with some great quarter-lap times.
Goodness me. Sainz didn’t actually make a great start – Russell did – but him being stuck behind Norris helped him grab the slipstream and eventually sling himself round Norris.
That move prevented Hamilton making up more ground too!
But Hamilton overtakes Alonso in the Alpine… that’s the first step.
Verstappen already up to 17th!
Yellow flag and Yuki Tsunoda bangs into some polystyrene on the edge of the track.
Lance Stroll is up from fourth to seventh, and Hamilton has done the reverse!
Sainz, Norris, Russell, Stroll, Ricciardo the top five. Wow. What a first lap.
Sainz gets the lead! He got a tow from Norris! And Alonso took the scenic route round to overtake Hamilton too!
F1 do good starts, don’t they.
Verstappen’s battery is giving him trouble, apparently. Bad news for the Red Bull driver.
Buuuut it’s all good now, apparently. False alarm.
There’s a long run down to Turn Two – LOADS of action coming up, I reckon.
Hamilton wants his 100th race win…
T-Minus five minutes… not long to go!
That catchy F1 intro music is playing…
What will happen next in the tight title race? Don’t go anywhere!
What would the equivalent of that ballet dancer on top of the piano be in football?
Charlie Methven pumping electro music out of the Sunderland boardroom? John Barnes rapping World in Motion in the centre circle? Answers on a postcard.
No national anthems today – instead, a ballerina dancing to Tchaikovsky on top of a grand piano.
Because, of course there is. Never change, F1, you wonderful, wacky sport.
Sadly, there’s no piano or ballet icon for this live blog. I’ll be having words with my bosses.
There are some big drivers at the back of the grid there! Verstappen last, Leclerc second last, obviously Kimi Raikkonen has a lot of history and pedigree too.
Interestingly, Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas is in P15. Mercedes changed his engine, KNOWING he would get a penalty and putting him near the back of the grid.
Was that some smart tactics/gamesmanship? To slow Verstappen’s ascent through the field? Red Bull’s Christian Horner didn’t say as much but definitely has his suspicions…
The whole grid: Norris, Sainz, Russell, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Alonso, Stroll, Perez, Ocon, Vettel, Gasly, Tsunoda, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Mazepin, Bottas, Giovinazzi, Latifi, Leclerc, Verstappen.
Any rain dances been going on?
Maybe in the Red Bull camp! Sochi could be soaking during the race, in which case it’s anyone’s game and tyres, strategy, overtaking and crashing could be crucial.
Plenty of black clouds in the sky…
Who IS on pole then?
Another Brit! Lando Norris, with his first pole position in his F1 career.
Fellow Brit George Russell in the Williams grabbed third behind Carlos Sainz, with Hamilton completing the first two rows on the grid.
Hamilton hasn’t won from P4 since Hungary in 2009!
Where does that leave Lewis?
…I hear you ask. Good question.
Lewis is in fourth. Well ahead of Max and well capable of winning the race.
But he had his problems in qualifying, knocking over a Mercedes engineer in the pits and spinning out of the third qualifying session, meaning he has to settle for P4.
He’ll have wanted pole…
Why did Red Bull take the punishment?
Well, the Sochi circuit allows plenty of overtaking and Verstappen was already facing a three-grid penalty for crashing into Hamilton at Monza.
Verstappen did start the 2018 race in 19th and finished fifth – so making your way up the field can be done. He’s a long way behind Lewis though…
The leader also admitted the prospect of rain – potentially sending the race into chaos – was part of his thinking. Will his gamble pay off?
Missed what happened in qualifying?
The world championship leader Max Verstappen will start from the BACK of the grid. Last place.
The Dutchman took an extra engine – meaning he is punished being by sent to the end of the queue. Really paying the price for that 180mph crash at Silverstone.
So, the F1 circus has come to town. The location: Sochi in southern Russia, previous host of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics and a host city in the 2018 World Cup.
Weather conditions are between 15-17C, with a decent chance of a bit of rain…
Hello, good afternoon, privyet.
Today it’s the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. The Formula One title race is right in the balance.
Who’s looking forward to this then?!
Source: Read Full Article