The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team extended their constructors’ championship lead to thirty-three points, after incredibly dramatic Russian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton claim his one-hundredth Formula 1 victory to take championship lead by two points over Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas performed a rain dance to finish fifth.
After changing from the Intermediates to the Slicks too late in qualifying, Mercedes timed the switch from Slicks to Intermediates perfectly as the rain began to pour in the closing laps at the Sochi Autodrom.
Before the rain came, Hamilton had been patient all race after making a poor start, the British driver found himself in seventh by the third corner and was left in a DRS train. The same could be said for Bottas who after starting sixteenth due to another power unit change, was caught in a DRS train and struggled to progress.
Hamilton finally started moving towards the front as those ahead pitted, giving the world champion clean air to post multiple fast laps. This helped Hamilton to come out ahead of everyone apart from race leader Lando Norris when he finally made his stop. Bottas on the other hand was stuck below the top ten for almost the entire race.
Hamilton then closed Norris rapidly but was unable to get past the Mclaren F1 Team driver, then in the closing stages the heavens began to open. Mercedes ordered both drivers in for Intermediates, unlike Norris who tried to stick it out on slicks, like many others. This meant that when the track suddenly became fully wet Hamilton was able to cruise past a helpless Norris, likewise with Bottas who overtook a number of drivers who delayed the switch to the Intermediates.
This meant that Hamilton made it one-hundred victories and that Bottas somehow finished fifth, as Mercedes extended their lead in the constructors’ standings. Team Principal Toto Wolff was full of praise for Hamilton and how incredible he is, Wolff also praised the entire team for what was an intense race.
“Those final few laps were so intense, but we managed to make the right calls and lead the field across the finish line. A big congratulations to Lewis on his 100th win. What we are witnessing is just mind-blowing. It’ll be talked about for the next few days, but it’ll only be years down the line when we realise that we’ve all been part of this journey. A journey no other driver in F1 history has done so far. That’s beyond race wins and championship victories, that is the very human part of all this.
“In terms of the race, I think it would have been difficult to get past Norris in the dry, as Lewis struggled to overtake Ricciardo even with DRS. Norris managed the race very well, who knows what would have happened if the rain hadn’t arrived, but it did. This kind of decision is hugely difficult, it started to drizzle on half of the circuit, but we made the call and it paid off.
“We’d made the call a little bit earlier with Valtteri, and that brought him into contention after a challenging race and he did a great job to move up the field and into the top five. A big well done to the entire team for all their work and efforts, it’s been a little while since we had a race victory but I know results like this will fire everyone up even more to keep pushing until the end of the season.