Hamilton wins 100th F1 race to take lead over Verstappen

Hamilton wins 100th F1 race to take lead over Verstappen

SOCHI, Russia (WNN) – Lewis Hamilton on Sunday became the first Formula One driver to win 100 races with a win at the Russian Grand Prix, regaining the championship lead from Max Verstappen.

Hamilton fell to seventh when he was boxed into the first corner, but fought back and passed Lando Norris for the win when the McLaren driver was out on slick tires late in the rain and slipped off the track.

“It’s taken a long time to reach 100 and at times, I wasn’t sure it would come,” Hamilton said. It was Hamilton’s fifth win of the season and his first since the British Grand Prix in July.

“It’s a magical moment,” Hamilton said. “I could only dream of being here and having the opportunity to win these races and drive with such extraordinary talent in my career.”

Hamilton converted Verstappen’s five-point championship lead into a two-point lead when the Dutch driver finished second after a dramatic drive from last on the grid. Carlos Sainz led the race early on and finished third for Ferrari.

After his difficult start, Hamilton began to overtake Fernando Alonso with a tough overtake, a duel with echoes of his season as a teammate when Hamilton was a rookie in 2007.

Verstappen started last after a penalty for an engine change at his Red Bull, but sliced ​​through the field and saw Hamilton halfway through. Hamilton’s Mercedes did a better job on hard tires in the second half of the race, and Verstappen’s charge was halted when he overtook Alonso’s Alpine and was trapped in seventh.

But then the rain came and Verstappen replaced the intermediate tyres early, allowing him to claim an unexpected podium finish and limit the damage to his hopes of a first title.

“We didn’t lose that many points today, so it’s really good,” Verstappen told his team over the radio. A key question for the rest of the season is whether Hamilton will even need to use an extra engine and take penalties.

It doesn’t rain much to make up the difference in Sochi, where the flat track means water drainage is slow.

Norris finished seventh after an unsuccessful gamble of staying on dry tyres, despite warnings from his team about how slippery the track was. Had it not rained, Hamilton said, “It would have been difficult to overtake Lando. His pace was very good.” When Hamilton and Verstappen collided after Daniel Ricciardo won the last race in Italy, Norris was aiming for back-to-back wins to McLaren.

Hamilton has now won the Russian Grand Prix on five out of eight occasions, and his victory continues a clean sweep of victory for Mercedes cars in Russia on Sunday.

Ricciardo missed the podium for McLaren in fourth and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was fifth after a scintillating run for the Finn. Mercedes’ decision to swap the engine in Bottas’ car and take a penalty prompted speculation that the team was deploying Bottas to catch Verstappen, which the team denied. Regardless, it didn’t take long for Verstappen to overtake Bottas.

Alonso was sixth for Alpine, ahead of Norris and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen. Sergio Perez’s second Red Bull ninth and George Russell in 10th scored the last points for Williams. Russell qualified third and kept the cars behind – including Hamilton, his teammate at Mercedes the following year – for the opening part of the race.

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