History was made under a stormy afternoon in Sochi, Russia, after Sir Lewis Hamilton took advantage of Lando Norris’ late race misfortune to lead the final three laps and win the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrome on Sunday, September 26, for his 100th career win in Formula One.
Hamilton, who started the weekend by wrecking twice during qualifying session and knocked one of his Mercedes crew members on pit road during the second practice session before lining up in fourth place on the grid, remained competitive throughout the event and methodically worked his way towards the front while Norris dominated in his McLaren.
While the event started on dry conditions, rain fell on the circuit in the second half of the event and would produce slick conditions on the circuit for the remainder of the event. As Hamilton, who was battling Norris late, pitted for intermediate tyres in the closing laps, Norris elected to remain on the circuit on slick tyres. Then on Lap 51 of 53, Norris slipped and Hamilton capitalized to take the lead. From there, Hamilton was able to power his Mercedes home to the win.
With his fifth Grand Prix victory of 2021, fifth in Russia and first since winning at Silverstone Circuit in July, Hamilton became the first competitor to reach F1’s winning centurion at 100. In addition, Hamilton extended Mercedes’ winning streak in Russia to eight consecutive seasons.
Overall, Hamilton, who came into Russia trailing Max Verstappen by five points, leads the drivers’ championship standings by two points as Verstappen settled in second place following a slow start to the weekend.
“It’s incredible,” Hamilton said. “Firstly, I just have to say a big, big thank you to my team. Without them, even today, fantastic on the pit stops, amazing with strategy and just continuing to not give up in this incredibly tight battle. I was really, really grateful for them just continuing to push. It’s taken a long time just to get that one win . Our competitors are super fast as you can see, but nonetheless, I’m really grateful. I was pushing so hard. I had a difficult day yesterday, so I was like, ‘I’ve got to redeem myself somehow.’ Flat out. It’s a great, great feeling. I’m glad that I brought it home.”
Norris, who achieved his maiden pole position on Saturday and who led a race-high 30 of 53 laps, settled in seventh after slipping on the wet circuit, pitting twice in the final laps and having a maiden F1 victory slip out of his reach in the final laps.
“I could have won the race and I didn’t,” Norris, who was emotional but earned the Driver of the Day honors, said. “It’s the way it is, it’s the way it went. I made the decisions I made. They were, obviously, wrong at the end of the day. Tough one, but on the positive side, I guess I got a couple points and [teammate] Daniel [Ricciardo] did a good job as well for the team. It was a decent day.”
Meanwhile, Verstappen rallied from a rough start of the weekend, where he was penalized three places on the grid for igniting a collision between himself and Hamilton in Italy in mid-September and penalized again after Red Bull Racing exceeded their power units use per season by installing a fourth Honda engine unit to Verstappen’s car ahead of this weekend’s event in Russia. Dropped to the rear of the field, Verstappen methodically worked his way to the front following a midway tyre change from hards to mediums and he ended up in second place for his 11th top-two result of 2021.
“Super happy to be second,” Verstappen said. “If you would’ve told me this morning that I would come second today, I wouldn’t believe you. Luckily, the call to go from the slicks to inters was the perfect one at the right lap. That gave me the positions and keep the car on the track. Super pleased with this. It could’ve been a lot worse in terms of how many points I would lose. To come away with second here was, for us, very important.”
Behind, Carlos Sainz Jr., who started on the front row, led 12 laps in his Ferrari before settling in third place and achieving his third podium result of this season.
“It’s mainly [a] happy [podium result],” Sainz said. “I think as a team, as Ferrari, we need to keep analyzing and keeping seeing what we can do better with tyres, with fuel, top speed, to make sure that the next time a Ferrari’s leading a Grand Prix, we’re not overtaken so easy as it happened today. In general, it was a very strong race.”
Daniel Ricciardo, winner of the previous Grand Prix event in Italy, finished fourth followed by Valtteri Bottas, who rallied from starting at the rear of the field after his Mercedes team elected to install a new power unit in his car.
Fernando Alonso finished sixth ahead of Norris while Kimi Räikkönen returned from a two-race absence to settle in eighth. Sergio “Checo” Perez finished ninth and George Russell, who started in the top three, claimed the 10th and final points-paying result on the track.
Aston Martin teammates Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel finished 11th and 12th followed by Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon and Charles Leclerc. Antonio Giovinazzi finished 16th while rookies Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin ended up 17th and 18th.
Nicholas Latifi retired in 19th while Mick Schumacher suffered his first retirement of the season due to a hydraulics leak, thus finishing 20th.
1. Lewis Hamilton, 25 points, three laps led
2. Max Verstappen, 18 points
3. Carlos Sainz Jr., 15 points, 12 laps led
4. Daniel Ricciardo, 12 points
5. Valtteri Bottas, 10 points
6. Fernando Alonso, eight points
7. Lando Norris, seven points, 30 laps led
8. Kimi Räikkönen, four points
9. Sergio Perez, two points
10. George Russell, one point
11. Lance Stroll, +1
12. Sebastian Vettel, +1
13. Pierre Gasly, +1
14. Esteban Ocon, +1
15. Charles Leclerc, +1
16. Antonio Giovinazzi, +1 lap
17. Yuki Tsunoda, +1
18. Nikita Mazepin, +2 laps
19. Nicholas Latifi – Retired
20. Mick Schumacher – Retired
Following the 15th Grand Prix event of 2021, Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers’ standings by two points over Max Verstappen. On the other hand, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team continues to lead the constructors’ standings by 33 points over Red Bull Racing and 163 over McLaren.
Next on the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship schedule is Istanbul Park for the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, October 10.