Russian F1 GP 2021: Hamilton wins and takes back the lead in Rainy Sochi

MercedesLewis Hamilton has claimed his fifth win of the season at the Russian F1 GP amid the chaos brought about by a sudden downpour at the end of the race.

Behind the Briton came a spectacular Max VerstappenThe Dutch racer performed a herculean comeback from a starting 20th place to second, limiting the damage to his title race against Hamilton. 

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz completed the podium after having led the race during the first few laps. This is the Spaniard’s third podium with La Scuderia. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas made up the top five ahead of a remarkable Fernando Alonso (Alpine), who got to race in third for some time in the end. After his fifth victory of the season, Hamilton regained the championship lead by two points ahead of Max Verstappen.   

A bad decision of Norris

 Lando Norris has been, without a doubt, the greatest loser of the Russian GP. The Briton from McLaren got to the lead on the thirteenth lap and hung on to it until the very end thanks to a very confident performance.
Just when he thought the victory was his, he took a disastrous gamble: He decided to stay on the track with his slick tyres despite the sudden rain. 
Unfortunately, that mistake cost him the glory which was handed down to his pursuer and compatriot Lewis Hamilton. The slippery tarmac sent Norris off track on several occasions.  

When he finally realized his mistake with just two laps to go, it was already too late. Most of his rivals had been to boxes to mount wet tyres by then and he ended up falling down to seventh place. 

All in all, a somewhat bittersweet 100th victory for Hamilton, whom, despite having taken back the lead of the standings, has done so by just two points over Verstappen.

His victory appears even less glossy considering his Dutch rival had started last. Verstappen, on the other hand, has managed to come out relatively unharmed from a very complicated situation.  

Sainz gets the holeshot passing Norris on exit 

Sainz, second in the starting grid and taking advantage of his ex- McLaren teammate’s slipstream, devoured pole-holder Norris for the lead at the start of the Russian GP of Formula One 2021. 

Meanwhile, Williams’ George Russell, held on to his starting third place.  Behind them, Stroll, Ricciardo and Alonso preceded a cautious Hamilton, who dropped back three places from fourth to seventh at the beginning of the race. 

Aware that he could not win the race in its first few meters but he could well lose it, he decided to avoid any unnecessary head to head. His plan was to deploy the heavy armour at the end of the Sochi appointment.

At the same time, his title rival Verstappen started his very own display of strength from the bottom of the pack. In just five laps he had climbed four places to fifteen behind Bottas

Back at the top of the race and Norris finally passed Sainz on the thirteenth lap after the Spaniard had kept him at bay since the start of the race. One lap after that and Sainz went to boxes. 

From that moment on, Norris went on to give a sensational performance, seemingly untroubled by Hamilton who came to be one second behind him during the decisive phase of the Russian GP.

The rain wreaks havoc and drives Norris to error

With seven laps to go the rain arrived turning the race upside down. The #4 slid off track several times struggling to keep control of the car with his slick tyres on the increasingly wet asphalt. 

It was then that Mercedes saw its chance to strike. Quickly assessing the condition of the track, they sent Hamilton to boxes to change to wet compounds, and even though he re-joined the track far away from Norris, his compatriot was now easy prey. 

Norris’ McLaren could barely keep a straight line amid the heavy rain. In one of his many skids off track, Hamilton finally passed him. Despite Norris ‘swimming’ to pits to mount dry tyres with two laps to go, the damage had already been done. 

Verstappen crossed the finish line almost a minute behind Hamilton. It was a real feat for the Dutchman, who preceded Sainz, another outstanding rival. Ricciado was fourth after a bad pitstop.

Images of Russian F1 GP:

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