Lewis Hamilton became the first Formula One driver to win 100 grands prix with a dramatic rain assisted victory in Russia that sent the Mercedes driver two points clear in the championship on Sunday (Sept 26) .
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished an impressive second at Sochi’s Olympic Park, after starting 20th and last due 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 a day of hope and ultimate heartbreak for McLaren’s Lando Norris as a late downpour dashed his hopes of a first win.
The 21-year-old Briton started on pole for the first time in his career, lost out to Sainz at the start but then passed the Spaniard 13 laps later and was still leading when the clouds burst.
Norris decided to stay out on slicks, after Hamilton had stopped for intermediates on team advice, with the top two comfortably clear of the rest.
He then plunged from first to seventh in the last three laps after slipping, sliding off and eventually having to pit.
“What a race the weather provided. It’s taken a long time to get to 100 and I wasn’t sure it would come,” said Hamilton, who last season passed Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s previous record of 91 wins.
Kimi Raikkonen, returning for Alfa Romeo after missing the previous two races due to a positive Covid-19 test, was eighth and Mexican Sergio Perez ninth for Red Bull.
George Russell, who had started a stunning third for Williams, struggled to 10th – his fourth points finish in the last five races for a team that had not scored for two years before that.
The only consolation for Norris, and it was a scant one on an afternoon that had offered so much more, was a bonus point for fastest lap.
Mercedes stretched their lead over Red Bull in the constructors’ standings to 33 points.
Haas driver Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, was the only retirement from the race.
The next round is at Turkey’s Istanbul Park on Oct 10.
Hamilton won his record-equalling seventh title there last November in a wet and slippery race but this year’s championship chase looks like going the distance.
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