Lewis Hamilton has become the first F1 driver to reach 100 wins with his victory at the drama-packed Russian GP on Sunday.
The seven-time World Champion managed the feat by overtaking compatriot Lando Norris during the closing stages of the race. Norris had been leading the grand prix for most of the race, however, the 21-year-old spun out in the heavy rain and conceded his position to Hamilton.
Hamilton vs Norris
It all went wrong for Hamilton during qualifying on Saturday, with the Briton sliding into the pit lane wall in Q3 and damaging his front wing, incurring an extended stop. With time running out to secure a better qualifying time, Hamilton set off on a mission, but spun out and once again tapped the barriers. He only achieved a P4 on the race day grid.
Norris, on the other hand, led McLaren on a sensational qualifying session, navigating the track’s tricky conditions to perfection. He threw caution to the wind on his final lap on was rewarded with his first-ever pole position.
At the start of the race, Hamilton dropped to seventh position, but kept his head down and pursued the race leaders. Norris initially conceded the lead to his former teammate, Carlos Sainz of Ferrari, but regained the top spot after a brilliant move on lap 14. With DRS and a slipstream, Norris overtook Sainz before the pair could reach a corner. He went on to create a commanding lead for the next 20 laps or so. Meanwhile, Hamilton was clawing his way up the ranks, and by lap 34 — out of 53 — he was just 6.5 seconds behind Norris.
On lap 50, Hamilton heeded the advice of his team and pitted to switch to intermediate tyres, while Norris chose to stay out on his slicks. The move would prove costly as the wet conditions of the track only worsened. Just a lap later — two laps from the finish — Norris ran wide and slid into the barriers. He managed to get going again but Hamilton had already barreled into the lead, and eventually the win. Devastated, Norris crossed the line in seventh place.
Hamilton’s historic win
Hamilton, who surpassed Michael Schumacher for most wins last year, had his team to thank for his historic 100th win — and he did so after the race.
“It’s taken a long time to obviously get to [win number] 100 and I wasn’t even sure whether or not it would come,” Hamilton said after the race. “So it’s good to see us united again and obviously the team made a great call right at the end.”
“I didn’t want to let Lando go and of course I didn’t know what the weather was doing but I’m incredibly grateful to all these men and women that are here and back at the factory because, wow, 100,” he added.
With the win, and Max Verstappen‘s second-place finish, Hamilton has taken the lead in the driver’s championship standings. He now has a slim two-point lead over Verstappen as they head to the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks.
F1 returns from 8 – 10 October, at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit.
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