Taking advantage of the opponent’s hesitation to change tires when it rains, Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix on the evening of September 26, to regain the top of the table and set a record for the number of times F1 won the stage.
Hamilton sets a record of winning 100 races in F1
Hamilton ‘s joy is also the infinite sadness of fellow countryman Lando Norris (McClan team). The young British driver won pole Saturday afternoon, thanks to an early switch to dry weather tires but lost the victory on Sunday due to a delay in switching to rain tires. Norris led until the race was only a few laps away from increasing pressure from experienced senior Hamilton.
The downpour was not heavy and only affected some distances in Sochi but was more than enough to completely disrupt the race. Many racers who are having dream-like results are suddenly beaten by the rain in the final laps. Some early riders who switched to intermediate tires (for light rain) soon benefited, such as George Russell, Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen or Max Verstappen. Some stubbornly continued to use tires for dry weather like Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc fell behind.
Hamilton also experienced moments of terror, but the large distance from the latter group prevented him from being damaged after the tire change was completed.
The McLaren team’s wrong judgment about the rain in Sochi caused Norris to lose the victory, the British racing team only called Norris to change the tire when the consequences were in front of them. Meanwhile, Verstappen, who at the time was struggling in seventh place, was among the first group of drivers to pit on intermediate tires at laps 47 and 48.
About half a lap after Verstappen had changed the tyres, Norris was asked by the coaches if he wanted to stop for an intermediate tire and the British driver replied: “No.” Hamilton also commented that the rain was not too heavy to worry about, but was ordered from Mercedes to return to change the tires because the rain was gradually getting heavier.
Hamilton returned to the pit one lap behind Verstappen, with four laps left, leaving Norris at the top with slippery tires as the rain fell harder and harder. Hamilton was still 14.9 seconds behind Norris at one lap after a tire change, but the slippery road now helped the Mercedes driver soon catch the McLaren within the next few corners and then take the lead.
Norris finally had to give up and return to the pit to change tires after repeatedly losing control at corners. Delays in tire changes sent him down to seventh overall. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who used the same tire as Verstappen, finished third, while Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) also benefited from an early tire change to get ahead of Fernando Alonso to finish. Wednesday and Thursday.
The McLaren team’s error of judgment is a blow for Norris as he is racing towards the first victory of his F1 career and McLaren is aiming for a second consecutive victory. Despite having the first advantage, the 21-year-old driver lost the lead to his former teammate Sainz at the start and then trailed the Ferrari driver for the next 13 laps before taking the lead back to No. .
Hamilton dropped from fourth to seventh in the first round and the England star was stuck behind Williams’ George Russell, Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Ricciardo (McLaren). After that, Hamilton soon rose to 3rd, but Ricciardo was still above the hold, giving Norris time to break through to create a safe distance in the lead. McLaren’s slow tire change for Ricciardo helped Hamilton easily rise to second place.
At the back, Verstappen excelled from the last position of the race and was only two seconds behind Hamilton after only 20 laps. After both Norris and Hamilton had their tires changed, Norris was still 10 seconds ahead, but the Mercedes driver continued to set the fastest lap and shortened the gap to less than 2 seconds with just over 10 laps left.
But then, Norris gradually controlled the speed, and Hamilton could not pass the opponent even though the distance was only approximately one second. In the end, the rain helped the Mercedes driver soon reverse the situation, although at one point Hamilton tried to slow down to ensure safety before changing the tyre.
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