Lewis Hamilton wins his 100th F1 race at Sochi in a chaotic ending, heavily affected by rain.
After a weekend full of twists and surprises it was finally time for the 53-lap race at the Sochi Autodrom.
Rain became a threat once again on Sunday, but the race started in dry conditions. Lando Norris admitted before the race that P1 was not preferable at Sochi and it was proved as the polesitter lost the lead to Carlos Sainz, while George Russell stayed third. Lewis Hamilton had a difficult start as well as he was down to 7th. Charles Leclerc had a brilliant getaway as he got to 13th.
Hamilton recovered one position after overtaking Fernando Alonso and joined the pack behind Russell. At the same time, Max Verstappen got close to Valtteri Bottas and eventually passed the Finn, which likely affected Mercedes’ strategy for the race.
Sainz and Norris built a comfortable gap from Russell, but the McLaren driver stayed within 1 second from his former teammate, which surely concerned the race leader. Norris got even closer and they nearly went side-by-side through turn 2. Behind them, Leclerc and Verstappen continued their fightback and nearly collided while trying to overtake Sebastian Vettel.
After being in Sainz’s mirrors for a couple of laps, Norris came back to the race lead.
Lance Stroll was the first driver to have a pit stop as he attempted to make an undercut on Russell. In the end, it was a successful plan as the Aston Martin driver got ahead. Sainz responded to losing the lead by going to the pit lane, returning to the track just ahead of Stroll.
The strategy game continues as there were less than 3 seconds between championship leaders Hamilton and Verstappen. However, the Briton was held up by Ricciardo while Perez and Alonso were ahead of Verstappen. Ricciardo was the first from this pack to go to the pits, but his stop was quite slow, which benefitted Hamilton.
The Mercedes driver got clean air and started closing the gap to Norris. Hamilton went to the pits and rejoined the track ahead of Ricciardo. After 28 laps, Norris got a fresh set of hard tires. Perez inherited the race lead, but he was yet to make a pit stop.
Hamilton continued his chase for the race win – he overtook both Sainz and Gasly quickly and only had Norris to pass. Thanks to the clean air, Hamilton was constantly getting closer to Norris. After Perez and Alonso pitted, the British duo got to P1 and P2 respectively.
Hamilton got right behind Norris, but not close enough to make a move. The threat of rain came back in the final laps of the race and in fact, the track got wet and the race leader started struggling immediately. At the same time, Perez passed Sainz for third.
The situation only worsened and plenty of drivers went to the pits for intermediates. Norris decided to stay on slicks, while Hamilton went to the pit lane. However, the young Briton’s gamble did not work out – the rain only intensified and Norris spun, giving Hamilton the race lead.
The reigning 7-time world champion cruised for his 100th victory in F1. Verstappen got through all the chaos after starting from the rear and finished 2nd, while Carlos Sainz crossed the finish line third.
The results of the Formula 1 Russian GP:
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||+53.271|
|8||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||+1:28.955|
|9||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||+1:30.076|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+1:46.198|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+1 lap|
|13||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+1 lap|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+1 lap|
|15||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+1 lap|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||+1 lap|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+1 lap|
|18||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+2 laps|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+6 laps|