Victory Slips From Lando Norris As Lewis Hamilton Takes His 100th Win
An absolutely bitter-sweet Russian Grand Prix filled with mixed emotions...
The win was in Lando Norris’ hands today at Sochi, he could taste it, feel it, see it, he knew his time was about to finally come. But instead of a triumphant end to the puzzling race, nightmare struck for the young Britain. The entire weekend Lando Norris and Mclaren have been soaring through the Sochi Autodrom, after taking their first victory in 9 years with Daniel Ricciardo the week before, the Woking-based team was ready to capture another win and add it to their name. Norris took his first maidan pole position on Saterday and was set to start first place on the grid on Sunday, Norris was in front of his former teammate, Carlos Sainz on the grid. Sainz might have gotten a poor start, but the Spaniard was leading the race at the end of lap 2. However, Lando would not let this win be taken away from him.
As Max Verstappen was climbing his way up the grid, overtaking car by car from P20, Lando was able to close in on Carlos. Sainz pulled away and tried to set a decent gap between him and Norris, but Lando closed the gap quickly and battled him on every part of the circuit. Lando quickly fought Sainz and conquered the lead from Carlos and established himself in first place and the favorite to win. Norris executed a beautiful and well-calculated strategy during the entire race… Sainz, Ricciardo, Stroll, etc. pitted fairly early and took on the undercut, as Norris stayed out and managed to keep his medium tires under control. As more rubber was placed on the track, it made the surface less abrasive and cut down the degradation. All was going well, Daniel Ricciardo had a superb race as well, finished in an astounding P4 at the end of the Grand Prix, yet, it was his teammate that is the talking point of today.
The 21-year-old saw a familiar-looking Silver Arrow, or should I say Black Arrow behind him in his rearview mirrors. Lewis Hamilton was gaining fast on Norris, and it was up to Lando to keep the charging Lewis behind him. It all seemed well until the rain was seen on the radar, corner by corner Lando started getting nervous as he would see drizzles fall on the track and umbrellas being taken out. Slicks and rain do not mix, and it was starting to affect the drivers, most teams pulled their drivers into the pits to change their slicks for the better choice of intermidiates. On the last couple of laps, rain fell down hard and started pouring heavily over the circuit. Lando felt the tires slipping away from him, the Mclaren driver would squirm and slip out of the lead, but took the bold decision and decided to stay out and not change his tires to intermediates.
This was not a good call compared to Lewis Hamilton, who jumped into the pits and went on the intermediates, giving Lewis more pace, more grip, more stability, and more speed. The inevitable struck as Lando slid and lost the lead, handing it over to Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton flew past Norris, as Lando went into the pits. Max Verstappen was right behind the reigning Champion and led Carlos Sainz into a deserved third place. The 7-time World Champion crossed the wet finish line and took his 100th win, the first time a Formula 1 driver has gone in the triple digits for victories. The heartbroken and gutted Lando Norris finished in a disappointing P6, behind Valtteri Bottas who also had a great race. Hamilton did break the unbelievable 100 wins record, but it was a bitter-sweet day filled with mixed emotions.
The dramatic and soaking finale saw Lewis Hamilton win a puzzling yet astonishing Russian Grand Prix after the long-time race leader Lando Norris suffered a late heartbreak by spinning his McLaren off in heavy rain. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz benefitted from that wrong choice made by Mclaren, bringing the championship between Lewis and Max even closer.
"It was my decision, I thought it was the way to go." Said a sorrowful Lando Norris after the race.
"Lando did such an amazing job, he had incredible pace," "It would've been tough to get past Lando unless we came up to some traffic or he made a mistake... so then the rain came and it was very opportunistic." Lewis Hamilton added on after the race.
Although Hamilton claimed the victory, and although the Dutchman finished in second place after starting in 20th, it was the dejection of Lando Norris losing the win that was in his own hands.
"I had the confidence beforehand.I've felt capable of doing it for a while, but just a bit of heartbreak you know.
"I felt like I did everything I could even when it got tricky.
"I made a couple of mistakes and still kept Lewis behind. The laps I was out, before Lewis boxed, it was perfectly fine for the tyres I was on, got told the rain would be the same amount, but it obviously got a lot wetter than we as a team expected."