On a partly wet Russian afternoon, world champion Lewis Hamilton drove like a legend to win the Russian Grand Prix, retake the world championship race and became the first driver in F1 history to record 100 victories.
After he took the chequered flag, Hamilton conceded that a century of victories was a hard toil all the way. “It was hard work,” he said.”. To get to a hundred…”
Hamilton’s driving and Mercedes strategy won the race that many thought was going to be won by McLaren’s Lando Norris, who led the race until lap 50 of the 53 lap race. When the rain started, Mercedes decided to pit Hamilton and fit intermediates on his car to account for the changing conditions. Norris and McLaren decided to stay out and they paid for it.
Norris, who won the Driver of the Day for a race he led from pole, would be gutted by the way the race turned out. With three laps to go, with rain coming down, he could not control the car and Hamilton passed him.
He then, belatedly decided to pit and change his tyres but with the race almost over, came out in seventh. He and McLaren would rue their decision not to change tyres when the rain came down. Their decision not only cost them the race but a podium finish for one of the most talented young drivers on the grid.
Norris took the responsibility for the decision. “I thought it was the way to go but in the end I was wrong,” he said.
With the win, Hamilton retook the lead on the world championship’s table but is only two points ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, with seven races to go. Verstappen had a fantastic race, starting at the back of the grid after taking an engine change and finishing second on the podium. The Dutchman had great fortune from the rain fall on lap 48 and the early strategic decision-making from the Red Bull Racing team to pit early for intermediate tyres.
The last spot on the podium went to Carlos Sainz, who took the third podium for Ferrari this season and his first since the streets of Monte Carlo. Sainz recorded what is his best drive for Scuderia Ferrari – using the slipstream to overtake Norris to lead the race after lap 1.
“This was a tricky but positive weekend for me,” the Spaniard said after the Russian GP,”We made a perfect start from the dirty side, braking late into turn 2 and risking it on the outside of Lando to get into the lead,
“It’s a happy podium but I think as a team we need to keep analysing what we can do better to make sure next time a Ferrari is leading we are less vulnerable.” Sainz concluded.
Sainz’ partner Charles Leclerc, who went into the race with a new engine and upgrades to the car, would be disappointed with his race, mustering 15th place after incorrectly sizing up the decision to switch to wet weather tyres. Leclerc was aided by a strong start to the race which saw the Monagesque driver shoot up to 12th after starting at the back of the grid.
|2||M. VerstappenRed Bull·#33||Running|
|3||C. Sainz Jr.Ferrari·#55||Running|
|8||K. RäikkönenAlfa Romeo·#7||Running|
|9||S. PérezRed Bull·#11||Running|
|11||L. StrollAston Martin·#18||Running|
|12||S. VettelAston Martin·#5||Running|
|16||A. GiovinazziAlfa Romeo·#99||Running|