Lando Norris Gifts Lewis Hamilton His 100th Victory Milestone At The Russian GP
He had the race in the bag, the McLaren superstar Lando Norris had the 2021 Russian Grand Prix in the bag. They dominated much of the 53 lap race, but with five laps to go Norris and McLaren gave an almost certain victory away. He secured his maiden pole position in qualifying but race day is where it really counts. At the start of the race, Norris had to battle back into the lead after it was taken away from him by Carlos Sainz. Ultimately the Ferrari could not match McLaren’s race pace, inevitably Norris regained the lead. Hamilton, who qualified 4th, had overcome a slow start and patiently made his way up from 7th to 2nd. Although Norris extracted good pace from his McLaren, Hamilton, now clear in second midway through the race, closed the gap and looked certain to challenge Norris for the lead.
When Hamilton did close the gap, his Mercedes got caught up in McLaren’s dirty air which unsettled the aerodynamics and prevented Hamilton from making a move. Then, with around several laps to go, the rain started to fall, lightly at first, no need to change to intermediates or full wets. With five laps to go the rain started to fall a little more meagerly, concentrated in one part of the circuit. Norris decided to stay out on slick tyres and so did Hamilton. But then the rain began to fall profusely, with three laps to go Norris decided to stay out, over-ruling his pit wall.
With four laps to go Norris and Hamilton tiptoed their way around a slippery track, Norris going off track a number of times but somehow managing to retain the lead. By now caution took hold of Hamilton and he backed off the pace. Driving on a wet circuit on slick tyres is like driving on oil. Hamilton too initially over-ruled his pit wall, they overruled him and he decided to take his team’s advice. Hamilton pitted with three laps to go, all but conceding the race to Norris. He was far enough ahead in second, bagging points and bringing the car home safely was prioritised.
As the rain began lashing the circuit, the rest of the field pitted for intermediates. Norris decided to stay out on slicks. Just three more laps and the race is won. By now the rain was falling hard, Norris slithering around the track. His pace fell off the cliff, he was so slow that Hamilton made up a 25-second deficit in one lap and took the lead. Eventually, Norris pitted for wet weather tyres handing victory to Hamilton and bagging 7th, scant reward for a superb performance. But it was a thrilling conclusion to a tense race.
Max Verstappen took advantage of the conditions to finish the race in 2nd after starting from the back of the field due to race and engine penalties. Carlos Sainz rallied to finish third. As for Lando Norris, he made the call to stay out and is deserving of 7th as much as he deserved victory. As for Hamilton, he finally reached the 100th race victory milestone in the most testing of conditions. That’s how you do it, Lando.
2021 Russian Grand Prix, Sochi Autodrom, Sochi – Race Results:
Note – Norris scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Stroll received a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision.