In truly dramatic fashion, Lewis Hamilton became the first ever driver to take the top spot on the podium in Formula One 100 times!
Lewis Hamilton Centurion – Record Breaker
The Seven-Time Champion of the World praised a ‘fantastic call’ from his team as they switched to intermediate tyres from the slicks, effectively ensuring Hamilton would take the win in the Russian Grand Prix.
The 100th win wasn’t the only record Lewis Hamilton notched up in Sochi. The Brit also became the first ever driver to attain a staggering 4,000 career points. An incredible feat as he retook the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, looking to win a record breaking eighth world crown.
The victory also keeps Mercedes’ 100% Sochi win rate intact. The centurion retook the title lead from rival Max Verstappen by just two points.
Heartbreak for Lando Norris
It looked like Lando Norris was going to convert his maiden pole position into his first victory in Formula One. Not for the first time in the race weekend, the weather played an interesting role creating chaos.
With only a handful of laps to go, the rain started coming down. It then became a game of cat and mouse with race leader Norris and the hunting Hamilton. Both drivers had a pit stop advantage over Carlos Sainz in third, but both seemed reluctant to give the advantage to the other.
Ultimately, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes blinked first, calling the Brit in for intermediate tyres. Despite Hamilton not wanting to, his team advised him more rain was on the way so he came in.
Norris stayed out, holding a healthy lead over Hamilton in second. Conditions worsened and the young Brit struggled for grip. He subsequently went wide, sliding all over the place, which allowed Hamilton to close the gap that was over 20 seconds and take the race lead comfortably.
It looked like a guaranteed top two for Norris, with Hamilton feeling that without the rain he wouldn’t have been able to pass him. After losing all that time on the slick tyres in wet conditions, then pitting, Norris ended the day in P7. One place behind him was the returning Kimi Raikkonen; he achieved his best result of the season, crossing the line in P8.
The heartbreak will be difficult to take for Norris. However, he should be incredibly proud of what looked to be the perfect drive. The small consolation of fastest lap and Driver of the Day went his way. It’s fair to say that Norris this weekend has reinforced the idea that he is a future Word Champion in the making.
Norris started first ahead of Sainz and Russell. This was the first time since 1975 that the top three at lights out had no race win between them.
Lewis Hamilton Centurion – How Did He Turn it Around in Sochi?
Not for the first time this season, Hamilton had a nightmare start at five red lights. He looked up the inside of Norris and Sainz, but was boxed in. This resulted in him being passed by the likes of Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo, as he had to break heavily to avoid a collision.
Hamilton passed Sainz on lap 30, to leave only Norris ahead of him in the race to overtake if he wanted the win. After overtaking the Spaniard, Toto Wolff was on the team radio to give a rallying call to his star driver. He told Lewis that the race win was on. On it was!
The race win from starting 4th on the grid is the first for Hamilton since he managed it at Hungary in 2009. For the first time, the race winner at Sochi came from outside the starting top three.
Elsewhere on the Grid
A masterstroke from Red Bull called Max Verstappen into the pits at the perfect time. The switch to intermediates before the others around him, allowed him to recover from P20 to P2. Valtteri Bottas managed P5 after what had been a quiet race for the Finn.
George Russell, after starting P3, managed to just stay in the points, finishing 10th place. He kept both Aston Martin cars at bay with Stroll 11th just ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
The 2nd Red Bull car of Sergio Perez finished in P9, allowing the Silver Arrows to stretch their advantage in the Constructors Championship.
After his maiden McLaren win at Monza, Daniel Ricciardo followed up with another solid performance. 12 points were secured by the Australian who finished P4.
It was a real rollercoaster of a race, shown by this graphic shared by Formula One:
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 26, 2021
How the Title Rivals Reacted
Speaking after becoming the sports’ first ever centurion, Lewis Hamilton said: “A big thank you to the fans here. It’s taken a long time to get to 100 and I wasn’t even sure it would come. Lando did such an amazing job. I’m actually incredibly grateful to the team here and at the factory.”
After a sensational recovery drive, Max Verstappen had the following to say: It was tricky to make the call to go to intermediate tyres but we had to make the call in the end. To go from P20 to P2 is amazing. With the penalty we had it’s a great result for us. I definitely didn’t expect it when I woke up this morning.”
- Lewis Hamilton
- Max Verstappen
- Carlos Sainz
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Valtteri Bottas
- Fernando Alonso
- Lando Norris
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Sergio Perez
- George Russell
- Lance Stroll
- Sebastian Vettel
- Pierre Gasly
- Esteban Ocon
- Charles Leclerc
- Antonio Giovinazzi
- Yuki Tsunoda
- Nikita Mazepin
- Nicholas Latifi
DNF – Mick Schumacher
It’s all to play for heading onto Turkey in two weeks!
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images