Lewis Hamilton is an F1 winner for the 100th time after rain cost Lando Norris is first victory in the Russian Grand Prix.
A heavy downpour in the closing stages at Sochi mixed up the order in the final few laps, giving Max Verstappen a surprise podium after he started at the back of the grid, while Carlos Sainz completed the top three.
Sainz tucked in behind Norris off the line to make the most of the slipstream before powering ahead of the McLaren into turn 1, while Hamilton had a poor start, dropping him down to seventh.
Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas both started towards the rear of the field after taking new engines, with Mercedes tasking the Finn with halting the Red Bull drivers’ progress, but the Dutchman was behind Bottas for just a few corners, overtaking him on lap 6.
Sainz initially seemed to be pulling away at the front of the field, but Norris started the close in again. After a couple of looks at the rear of the Ferrari, Norris found a way through on lap 13, giving the polesitter the lead.
Lance Stroll was the first to come in for new tyres, having been unable to find a way to overtake George Russell in third. Stopping earlier gave the Canadian track position once the Briton stopped on the following lap, with the undercut proving powerful.
Verstappen continued to make his way through the field, and pitted on the same lap as Hamilton, just five seconds behind his title rival, but Russell and Daniel Ricciardo were between the two on the track.
Norris eventually pitted from the lead, and rejoined the track as the lead car to have made a pitstop, but Hamilton was much closer after putting in a couple of fast laps since making his stop.
Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso were the final drivers to swap tyres, coming in with 19 laps to go, but Red Bull had difficulties getting the Mexican’s rear left off, leaving in stationary for almost nine seconds.
Hamilton was less than two seconds adrift of Norris with 15 laps remaining, but the McLaren driver continued to do just enough to stay out of DRS range as he tried to seal his first F1 victory.
There was an added difficulty late on when rain started to fall around the Sochi circuit with eight laps to go. Initially, just a few drops fell, but the rain soon started to fall heavier.
Drivers started to come for inters, with Hamilton pitting from second, but Norris tried to stay out at retain track position. The rain continued to get heavier though, and Norris couldn’t control his McLaren anymore, running wide and letting Hamilton take the lead.
Stroll dropped down the order after colliding with Pierre Gasly and then running wide into the barrier, but both drivers were able to continue.
Verstappen managed to jump a number of the cars ahead of him in the pitstops while putting on the inters to finish as runner up, completing an impressive drive from the back of the grid.
Despite missing out on the victory, Norris did set the fastest lap of the race, picking up an extra point.
Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi were the only retirements, with both drivers coming into the pits with mechanical issues.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
7. Lando Norris (McLaren)
8. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
10. George Russell (Williams)
11. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
12. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
13. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
14. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
15. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
16. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
17. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
18. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)
Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
Mick Schumacher (Haas)
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