Sochi: Lewis Hamilton became the first Formula One driver to win 100 races with victory in the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday to retake the championship lead from Max Verstappen.
Hamilton dropped to seventh place when he was boxed in at the first corner but fought back and passed Lando Norris for the win when the McLaren driver stayed out on slick tires in late rain and slid off the track.
“It’s taken a long time to get to 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 have dreamed of still being here and having this opportunity to win these races and get to drive with such phenomenal talents this late in my career.” Hamilton turned Verstappen’s five-point championship lead into a two-point lead of his own after 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 tough start, Hamilton started moving up with a tough overtake around the outside of Fernando Alonso, a duel with echoes of their season as teammates when Hamilton was a rookie in 2007.
Verstappen started last after a penalty for an engine change in his Red Bull but sliced through the field and had Hamilton in sight by the halfway stage. Hamilton’s Mercedes worked better on the hard tires in the second half of the race and Verstappen’s charge seemed to have stalled when he was overtaken by the Alpine of Alonso and stuck in seventh. But then the rain came and Verstappen switched to intermediate tires early, allowing him to claim an unexpected podium finish and limit the damage to his hopes of a first title.
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