Lewis Hamilton became the first F1 driver to win 100 races on Sunday in Russia, also taking first place in the drivers’ standings, to the detriment of Max Verstappen.
Hamilton, of Mercedes, slipped to seventh when stuck at the first corner.
He closed the gap and edged Lando Norris for the win when the McLaren driver left the track in the rain at the end of the race, after keeping his tires smooth.
“I had to wait a long time for this 100th win,” said Hamilton, who hadn’t been successful since July, at Silverstone. I wasn’t sure I could do it.
“It’s a magical moment,” continued the man with five wins in 2021. “I could only imagine being there and having these winning opportunities alongside such talented people at this point in my career. “
Five points behind in the championship at the start of the day, the Englishman is now two points ahead of Red Bull’s Verstappen. He finished second after leaving last Sunday.
Carlos Sainz gave Ferrari a third place.
Hamilton didn’t get off to a great start, but he started to recover with a skillful pass on the outside against Fernando Alonso.
It was reminiscent of their season as teammates when Hamilton was a rookie in 2007.
Verstappen started last, punished in connection with an engine change, but he had Hamilton in sight halfway through the race.
Hamilton’s car performed better in the second half of the race on hard tires. Verstappen’s push appeared to be curbed when Alonso’s Alpine joined him, relegating him to seventh.
But then the rain came. Verstappen quickly opted for intermediate tires, en route to a podium that limits the damage, in his quest for a first drivers’ championship.
“We didn’t miss too many points, which is very, very good,” Verstappen said on his team radio.
Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and Alonso finished fourth in sixth, ahead of Norris.
“If it hadn’t been for the rain it would have been difficult to pass Lando,” said Hamilton. He had a great pace. “
A Norris win would have earned McLaren a second straight win, after Ricciardo prevailed in Italy.
At Aston Martin, Quebecer Lance Stroll finished 11th, one row ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel. Stroll started seventh and Vettel 10th.
“The decision was made a lap too late to switch to intermediate tires,” said the Canadian. It cost us a lot of points.
“It’s even more disappointing because we got off to a good start and reached fourth place. The battle was very pleasant in the first few corners. We will learn from it. “
Between now and the end of the season, an open question is whether Hamilton will also have to accept a penalty, if he has to use a new engine.
The next race will be on October 10, in Turkey.