Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th Formula 1 victory at an eventful 2021 Russian Grand Prix as he was the first to cross the finish line at a wet Sochi Autodrome, ahead of title rival Max Verstappen, who somehow managed to take home second place on Sunday, September 26.
The race result was looking to be very different from the beginning, as Lando Norris led the pack from lights out in his first ever pole position. However, this early victory would be a small one as Carlos Sainz managed to overtake for P1 in the first corner of the first lap while Hamilton’s slow start saw him drop down to seventh place.
It seemed that it would be very much a Ferrari-McLaren battle, as Lewis Hamilton slipped down to seventh place at the race start, and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas started in 16th place with a new power unit.
This wouldn’t bother Toto Wolff too much, as Hamilton’s title rival Verstappen started the race all the way back in 20th place, a penalty for having his entire engine changed earlier in the weekend.
After a tight on-track battle with Sainz from the beginning of the race, Norris eventually managed to get his orange McLaren ahead, regaining the lead on the 14th lap with a little bit of help from DRS and Sainz’ own slipstream.
A mad rush to the pits in the middle of the race reshuffled the order a fair bit, but when the tyre changing commotion was over by the 38th lap, it was Norris in front with Hamilton looming in his rear view mirror.
The pair were separated by just one second going into the closing stages of the race, but then the rain arrived.
The lead pair of Hamilton and Norris kept calm and carried on while the rest of the pack pitted for intermediate tyres to better suit the deteriorating weather conditions. Hamilton was the first to bow out of the battle, and as he drove to the pits a determined Norris stayed out and on the hunt for his maiden F1 victory.
That victory came tantalisingly close for Norris, who was just two laps away from deservedly claiming it when he agonisingly slid off the track, leaving Hamilton with the lead.
In the end, Hamilton crossed the line first, and with that took his 100th victory in F1, a monumental achievement even by his standards.
After a colossal drive from Verstappen, the Dutchman finished his race in second place from all the way back in 20th place, giving us the 1-2 finish result that we are all becoming very accustomed to.
completing the podium was Sainz, who took a deserved third place on the day. Meanwhile, his teammate Charles Leclerc finished the race in 15th place, having begun it in 19th.
An understandably frustrated Norris eventually crossed the line in 7th place, but was gracious in defeat and commendably congratulated his compatriot on winning the race right after getting out of his McLaren. Despite his late slip, Norris was fan-voted as the driver of the day, a smaller but nevertheless sweet victory after an exhilarating and exhausting Russian GP.
With his 100th victory now under his belt, Hamilton has edged back in the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings by just two points over Verstappen.
This thoroughly entertaining title fight will continue in two weeks, at the Istanbul Park for the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, October 10.
Featured image courtesy of @MercedesAMGF1 on Twitter, Hamilton is getting very good at lifting the first place trophy