Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton is first driver to 100 wins after Sochi rain hurts Lando Norris
- Sudden rain helped Hamilton’s cause in Sunday’s closing laps, causing Norris, who had been leading, to spin
- Seven-time world champion Hamilton now leads the drivers’ championship, two points ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull, who was second in Russia
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes recovered from a terrible start at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi to become the first Formula 1 driver to reach 100 wins after rain helped his cause in Sunday's closing laps.
“It's taken a long time to get to 100 and at times, I wasn't sure it would come,” Briton Hamilton said after prevailing late on after leader Lando Norris had spun in the sudden rain.
The seven-time world champion now leads the drivers' championship, two points ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull, who was second in Russia.
The duo's title battle is shaping up to be one of the best in recent times and Hamilton taking the overall lead again from the Dutchman follows another crash between the pair at Monza last time out.
Carlos Sainz of Ferrari completed the Sochi podium in third.
Defending champion Hamilton started fourth, but dropped to seventh after the opening corners.
Pole sitter Norris of McLaren initially lost his position to Sainz and the pair had an intense battle until the McLaren driver reclaimed the lead just before the first round of pit stops started. Hamilton meanwhile was labouring to climb up the field.
Norris was among one of the last drivers to stop but returned to the track behind three drivers yet to change tyres and eventually took the lead again.
The Briton was en route to his maiden F1 career win but rain in the closing laps were a turning point for the race.
What started as a few drops, turned into heavy rainfall that forced a pit stop flurry late on.
Norris refused to change his tyres, ignoring three calls from his McLaren team. Struggling for grip in wet conditions, he spun off, giving Hamilton a free road to victory after the defending champion had pitted.
“Lando did such an amazing job, he had incredible pace. The team made a great call right at the end, I didn't want to let Lando go but again I didn't know what the weather was doing,” said Hamilton, who didn't sound happy on the radio when he was called to change to intermediate tyres.
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Verstappen started from the back of the grid due to a penalty for too many power unit changes and also benefited from the late rain.
“It was pretty tricky on the in-lap to make the call for inters, it was really slippery. The race itself was not very easy, luckily with the rain, it helped us to make that last jump,” the Dutchman said.
Sainz also thanked the rain as it helped him secure his third podium with Ferrari since joining the team this year.
“The rain came at the right time as my hard tyres were going away. We boxed at exactly the right time and managed to get back onto the podium,” the Spaniard said.
Norris ended up seventh, but could still be in trouble for crossing the pit lane entry line when he eventually came in to change tyres.
“I don't know where to start. I made a decision just as much as the team,” Norris said.
“It's pure heartbreak. I did everything I could, a bit of luck – I was told the rain was the same amount, if it had been the same amount, staying out would have been the right decision.”
Formula 1 next heads to Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix on October 10.