SOCHI: Lewis Hamilton became the primary Formula One driver to win 100 grands prix with a dramatic rain-assisted victory in Russia that sent the Mercedes driver two points clear within the championship on Sunday.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished a powerful second at Sochi’s Olympic Park, after starting 20th and last thanks to engine penalties, thereby limiting the damage from his rival’s fifth win of the season and first since July.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari on each day of hope and supreme heartbreak for McLaren’s Lando Norris as a late downpour dashed his hopes of a primary win.
The 21-year-old Briton started on pole for the primary time in his career, lost bent Sainz at the beginning on the other hand passed the Spaniard 13 laps later and was still leading when the clouds burst.
Norris decided to remain out on slicks, after Hamilton had stopped for intermediates on team advice, with the highest two comfortably beyond the remainder .
He then plunged from first to seventh within the last three laps after slipping, sliding off and eventually having to pit.
“What a race the weather provided. It’s taken an extended time to urge to 100 and that i wasn’t sure it might come,” said Hamilton, who last season passed Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s previous record of 91 wins.
“Max must’ve done a very great job to return up to second from last. We’ve got our work cut out,” added the Briton, who started the day five points behind Verstappen with seven races remaining after Sochi.
Hamilton had slipped to seventh at the top of lap one, losing out at the beginning after being fourth on the grid, but made up places as those before him pitted early.
He was still 25 seconds behind Norris after his final stop but the team had read the weather right and therefore the tyres easily allowed him to catch up and overtake his compatriot for a landmark win.
While Hamilton celebrated a private century, his Mercedes team maintained their own one hundred pc record in Sochi. The champions have won every Russian Grand Prix since the primary in 2014, Hamilton triumphant in five of them.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, winner of the previous race at Italy’s Monza circuit, was fourth for McLaren, with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Mercedes after starting 16th. Both benefited from stopping early for the treaded tyres.
Double world champion Fernando Alonso was sixth for Renault-owned Alpine.
Kimi Raikkonen, returning for Alfa Romeo after missing the previous two races thanks to a positive COVID-19 test, was eighth and Mexican Sergio Perez ninth for Red Bull.
George Russell, who had started a shocking third for Williams, struggled to 10th — his fourth points finish within the last five races for a team that had not scored for 2 years before that.
The only consolation for Norris, and it had been a scant one on a day that had offered such a lot more, was a bonus point for fastest lap.
Mercedes stretched their lead over Red Bull within the constructors’ standings to 33 points.
Haas driver Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, was the sole retirement from the race.
The next round is at Turkey’s Istanbul Park on Oct 10.