And here it is!
Righto folks, that’s us for today. Check back presently, for our report will be up here and on the site. Thanks for your company – ta-ra.
Hamilton shares a laugh with Norris, saying he also didn’t want to come in – “He’s right there,” he says to him and of him. It’s great to see McLaren doing so well, he notes, and isn’t sure he’d have won without the rain. He wasn’t sure where he’d be coming out after his first pit but it worked out well and he congratulates Verstappen’s effort on moving from last to second – “mega damage-limitation”, he says, and that they’ll be hard to beat as they’ve got the fastest car, but he and his team will try.
Toto Wolff says Mercedes struggled with the DRS and isn’t sure they’d have won today without the rain. His weather man was certain it was coming in, so they went for it.
Also going on:
Horner says that Verstappen benefitted massively from the weather and they’d have taken a swing of 20th to P2. He congratulates Hamilton on his “insane” tally of 100 wins and hopes the surface in Turkey will have “weathered in” after being relaid last year. He thinks the race for the title will go all the way to Abu Dhabi and it’s going to be a “phenomenal competition”.
Andreas Seidl, the McLaren principal, notes that the team could’ve overruled Norris but didn’t, and that there are many positives to take away from the weekend – he just wants the next race now.
Ah man, Norris looks haunted, but finds his smile, saying he “Unhappy, devastated in a way”. He made the wrong call to stay out not change onto slicks and takes responsibility for it – he’s felt capable of winning a race for a while, but not winning this one is “heartbreaking”. He was told the rain wouldn’t get heavier, and when it did his strategy was ruined, but everything until then was great; he hopes not to make the same mistake again.
He’s so likeable and was doing his best to keep calm, but by the looks of things he’s gone off for a big cry, and understandably so.
So we’ve got six races left, the first of them in Istanbul a fortnight today; I cannot wait.
1 Hamilton 246.5
2 Verstappen 244.5
3 Bottas 151
4 Norris 139
5 Pérez 120
6 Sainz Jr 112.5
7 Leclerc 104
8 Ricciardo 95
Hamilton enjoys his national anthem, and will shortly shpritz champagne.
1 Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 Verstappen (Red Bull)
3 Sainz Jr ( Ferrari)
4 Ricciardo (McLaren)
5 Bottas (Mercedes)
6 Alonso (Alpine)
7 Norris (McLaren)
8 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
9 Pérez ( Red Bull)
10 Russell (Williams)
11 Stroll (Aston Martin)
12 Vettel (Aston Martin)
14 Gasly (AlphaTauri)
15 Leclerc (Ferrari)
16 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
17 Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
18 Mazepin (Haas)
19 Latifi (Williams) DNF
20 Schumacher (Haas) DNF
Sainz Jr reckons he got a good launch, tucking in behind Norris, but the race started to go bad with the rain, which came at the worst-possible time for him. He fought back well though, and is happy with his P3.
Verstappen says it was tricky to decide when to pit, but they got the call to go to inters right and it’s “very very good” to come from last to second. The rain helped them make the final jump, he reckons, and when he woke up this morning, he definitely didn’t expect this result.
Hamilton thanks the crowd, saying he wasn’t sure 100 would ever come, then pauses to hug Norris on a fine job. He notes how well he’s driving, thanks his team for making the right call at the end, and he’s incredibly grateful to all the men and women here and in the factory. Last night, he wasn’t “the happiest” with the job he did yesterday, saying he made slight errors, but waking up with pain in his neck he was determined to get it done, also saying that Versatappen must’ve done a brilliant job to come from last to second. He thinks it would’ve been hard to get by Norris without the rain, but he’s delighted to have the points.
Hamilton – and Mercedes’ – composure and calm won them that race today. They hung in there, then made the right calls at the right moments, and seriously, one hundred wins, more than anyone else, what an absolute hero. But let’s also celebrate Norris and Verstappen, who were brilliant today.
Poor old Norris ends up seventh, but with an extra point for setting the fastest lap. His time will come, of that we can all be certain.
Wow! Yet another brilliant race, and how brilliantly Hamilton and Mercedes negotiated it! He thanks his team for the late pit and the call on the tyres, also noting that it’s taken them five races to get to three figures. Well, they’re here now, but Verstappen’s second-place means the overall gap between them is just two points.
Lewis Hamilton wins the Russian Grand Prix, his 100th in total! He regains the lead in the driver standings too!
Verstappen is second, Sainz third, Ricciardo fourth and Bottas fifth.
Lap 53/53 Lewis Hamilton is going to take the lead in the driver standings, but Veratappen would’ve taken a five-point deficit before the race and this is so set-up it’s ridiculous.
Lap 52/53 Visibility is really poor now, Hamilton extending his lead, and Norris pits – can he come out and stay on the podium? Hamilton, though, doesn’t care. If he stays on the track, he wins, and Norris emerges in seventh. Maybe the team made a mistake in misjudging the weather radar, but you can see why he stayed out to tough it out. Ach, and there’s Norris sliding out of bounds, that’s going to be another penalty. How gutting for him, but what a talent!
Lap 51/53 Ach! What a shame for Norris, who floated straight as Hamilton negotiated the corner, and Verstappen is now third, gunning for P2! That looks his from where I’m sitting, and what a season this is!
Lap 51/53 Hamilton’s taking chunks out of Norris, the lead down from 25.721s to 14.995s! I think he’s got enough in reserve, but as I type that the lead is down to 8.424! It’s caning down, shpritz all over the show, and HAMILTON PASSES NORRIS, WHO SLIDES OFF THE TRACK!
Lap 50/53 Hamilton comes in though he doesn’t want to! We learn that more rain is expected as he comes out in second, onto inters and 25.721s behind; “We just need to commit to stay,” Norris declares, and he’s only got to hang in there fir three more laps to record his maiden race-win!
Lap 49/53 It’s stopped raining again and Norris’ team tell him it’s slippy ... “Shut up,I know!” he responds! Norris now leads by 2.294 as Ricciardo pits and he tells his team he won’t!
Lap 48/53 Perez passes Sainz and moves into third as we learn that the rain might get worse before it gets better. There’s a yellow flag, then Norris goes really wide, and this is now very difficult for all the drivers! “It’s really slippy but it’s not raining much,” Hamilton tells his team, and Russell and Bottas pit... Hamilton makes like he’s going to, doesn’t, and Norris now leads by two seconds!
Lap 47/53 Hamilton can’t afford to risk spinning out trying to overtake because he needs the second-place points, and Norris’ lead, briefly under a second, is now back over. And now Hamilton is closer, 0.55 away, and he attacks! Norris slides off the track but comes back still ahead – that’s done just about well enough – but Hamilton has DRS and attacks again! The wetness is helping the champ, but Norris hangs in there!
Lap 46/53 I wonder whether the rain will help Hamilton or Norris; in commentary, they reckon the former, and we see the brollies go up. Norris tells his team the rain is here.
Lap 45/53 Norris is doing really well to keep ahead of Hamilton, picking clever lines. The lead is only a second and change now, but isn’t reducing by anything significant, and we can see the rain coming, heavier than initially anticipated.
Lap 44/53 Ultimately, Norris’ McLaren is quicker on the straight than Hamilton’s Mercedes, so manufacturing the overtake is tricky. The lead, though, is down to 1.185s, while Russell – sat in tenth – tells his team he can see some spots of rain.
Lap 43/53 “Still a threat of rain towards the end,” Hamilton learns, and he’s reduced the cap to 1.272s; can he take the win that’d be his hundredth? I fancy Norris to see this out I must say – he’s got just enough speed and more than enough moxie.
Lap 42/53 It’s been a good little race has this, and what a day it might be for Lando Norris. He’ll take many, many chequered flags, but will only experience his first once, and is 1.620 in front of Hamilton.
Lap 41/53 Sainz looks good for a third-place finish, now more than two seconds in front of Ricciardo, while Verstappen is seventh. I’m certain Hamilton would’ve taken that, paired with a second-place for him.
Lap 40/53 Norris is having a blinder here and he puts in a fastest lap to extend his lead to 1.814s. Hamilton has complimented his, er, “fellow countryman” many times this season, but he’ll be starting to experience annoyance.
Lap 39/53 What a win this’d be for Norris – Norrises everywhere really. “Expecting light drops in about 10 laps,” we hear...
Lap 38/53 Norris leads Hamilton by 1.917s and as I type that, Alonso takes out Verstappen! That top-five hope suddenly looks exceedingly forlorn!
Lap 37/53 A poor pit from Perez – Red Bull struggle to get a tyre off – who was third, sees him come out ahead of Verstappen, on fresher tyres. Perhaps there’ll be some orders coming his way, especially as Hamilton is closing on Norris now, the gap down to around three seconds.
Lap 36/53 Leclerc stops and it’s a slow one! He comes out 13th, behind Vettel, while Hamilton’s team tell him his pace is very good.
Lap 35/53 Sainz is still holding off Ricciardo and Verstappen, but Hamilton has taken out Leclerc; it looks like it’ll be him or Norris who wins this, the game between them around four seconds.
Lap 34/53 Schumacher is called in to retire his car, then Gasly pits and Norris passes Leclerc! Verstappen, meanwhile, is eighth behind Ricciardo, and no longer looking a lock for a top-five finish.
Lap 33/53 It’s no longer going well for Sainz, whose early-stop strategy doesn’t look a wise one. Ricciardo, who sits behind him in eighth, is looking good to pass, while in front Gasly is only 0.7s ahead but Hamilton is 11s further away.
Lap 32/53 Perez leads, from Alonso from Leclerc, but none of the three have pitted. It’s looking like a straight row between Hamilton and Nozza for the win ... all the more so when Sainz attacks Gasly, who shuts the door!
Lap 31/53 Yup, Hamilton – whose team are telling him he can win this – gets by Gasly and sets a fastest lap too. He’s fifth, seven or so seconds behind Norris.
Lap 30/53 Verstappen is on mediums, I guess because he needs to do something different – nearly everyone else is on hards – and here comes Hamilton attacking Sainz, taking him out! Gasly is next, and the champ is looking strong now!
Lap 29/53 In comes Norris and has a far better stop bestowed upon him than did Ricciardo. He returns in fourth, eight seconds behind Leclerc, with Alonso and Perez ahead of them, in ascending order.
Lap 28/53 Norris still leads and if he can manage four more laps on these tyres he’ll fancy himself to last this one out. Meantime, Verstappen nobbles Russell, and this looks like a fine damage-limiting drive.
Lap 27/53 “Hamilton strategy,” says Nick Thornton. So clearly they wait to see if they pit for inters or stay on slicks ... McLaren also I guess.” And as I paste that, Hamilton, who’s earned himself a bit of a buffer over Ricciardo, comes in and so does Verstappen! Hamilton returns in ninth, ahead of Ricciardo, while Verstappen is 12th!
Lap 26/53 Red Bull keep Verstappen out because if he comes in, he’ll come back below Ocon who’s 14th; if he hangs in there for five or six seconds laps longer, he should have decent tyres to the end, and has already driven superbly to limit the damage of his back-of-the-grid start.
Lap 25/53 Hamilton is half a second quicker than he was – he’s husbanded his tyres pretty carefully and just set a fastest lap – but he’s 12.330s behind.
Lap 24/53 Norris now leads from Hamilton, who trails by 13.043. Perez is third, Alonso, fourth, and Verstappen fifth, but the Belgian is struggling to advance any further – his tyres have gone, and he tells his team he can’t turn the car.
Lap 23/53 Mercedes and McLaren are both ready to pit and Ricciardo comes in to be handled by the latter ... but they’re slow! It was drizzling at the time; did Mercedes draw them into the change by making like they were about to go, knowing that conditions would slow their opponents down?
Lap 22/53 Hamilton goes around again, still not pitting – the impression is that he’ll eventually switch his mediums to softs.
Lap 21/53 Hamilton sounds ready to come in while behind him, Perez is joining the battle for second – there’s about a second covering the two of them and Ricciardo.
Lap 20/53 Ricciardo is doing a great job holding off Hamilton, 10.887 behind Norris. Sainz is 28.443 behind, in 11th, but he’s stopped and the leader hasn’t yet.
Lap 19/53 Verstappen is absolutely nailing this, lapping 1.300s faster than Hamilton. We can see the snow-capped mountains – it’s unseasonably parky in Sochi – but the rain still has’t come.
Lap 18/53 Verstappen sets another fastest lap, while maybe Hamilton is coming into his own – the gap to Ricciardo is 0.777s now, but in commentary they note the rain that looks imminent.
Lap 17/53 Verstappen is a second a lap quicker than the cars in front of him, and a battle with Hamilton looks possible; oooh yeah! Meantime, Ricciardo’s McLaren is still too quick on the straights and it’s still Norris who leads.
Lap 16/53 The thought is that those who’ve come in early might be struggling in the final stages. But the focus is on Verstappen at the moment, who’s closing the gap on Hamilton, who’s third for the now around eight second ahead. Norris still leads but hasn’t yet come in.
Lap 15/53 Verstappen diddled Vettel around that same corner, but meantime Gasly sets the fastest lap then Stroll beats it, Sainz pits and comes out at 13th, and Hamilton is still out there; no one in commentary understands his strategy, but Norris has also yet to come in.
Lap 14/53 Hello! Norris has been attacking Sainz, complaining about his tyres, and there he goes! He getting behind him down the back straight, then nips left and around before they’ve even reached the breaking zone! Meantime, Verstappen passes Vettel – he’s now ninth – and Hamilton needs to make a pit-stop decision very soon.
Lap 13/53 Stroll, who was fourth, pits, and comes back 15th behind Bottas; in commentary, they reckon Norris is favourite, also telling us that Verstappen’s team reckon he can get top five.
Lap 12/53 Sainz leads from Norris by 1.537s, while Ricciardo’s lead on Hamilton is up to a second.
Lap 11/53 Ricciardo is a little further away from Hamilton now, 0.843 ahead, but then further back Gasly and Vettel duel so Verstappen sticks his nose in front of Leclerc and just as it looks like he might be in trouble – I think the cars touch – he bullies through! Verstappen now sits 12th, just six places behind Hamilton!
Lap 10/53 “Sainz and Norris have a great chance of winning this,” reckons Paul Di Resta in co-comms, and we see Norris getting a little closer to him, within DRS – by the looks of things, Sainz is saving his tyres a little.
Lap 9/53 Verstappen is now stuck behind Gasly, who’s 13th, while McLaren are now thinking about a two-stop strategy but excuse me while I interrupt myself, Verstappen has nailed Gasly around the same corner he got Bottas two laps ago! He’s enjoying himself out there!
Lap 8/53 Sainz still leads, 1.731 ahead of Norris with Russell a further seconds behind. Hamilton is getting closer to Ricciardo in fifth, but the winner of the Italian GP just two weeks ago isn’t going to just wave him by.
Lap 7/53 Verstappen nails Bottas on the inside! We said how easily he did or didn’t do that would tell us plenty about this race and he simply powered through! I’m not sure why Bottas didn’t force him to go around, because he could not have made that less taxing for his teammate’s title rival.
Lap 6/53 Sainz has extended his lead to 1.873s, breaking away from the DRS limit, and is putting in a serious shift. Hamilton, meanwhile, is 9.260s behind him, about half a pit-stop, and he’s had a very poor start to the race.
Lap 5/53 The rain is reducing, apparently, while we see Verstappen is up to 15yh and 17.272s behind. Behind Hamilton, we’ve got Perez, Alonso, Ocon, Raikkonen, Vettel, Leclerc, Gasly and Bottas.
Lap 4/53 Sainz has only led for five laps in the entirety of his career, so he’ll not be easy to shift. He still leads by roughly the same as before, while Hamilton, 7.094 behind him, is looking to attack Ricciardo who’s about half a second in front.
Lap 3/53 Looking at the start again, Sainz actually gets away badly but then gets by Russell’s side, uses Norris’ slipstream, and nips around him when he’s close enough. He thought that out really well when things didn’t go as he wanted them to.
Lap 2/53 The top five on the grid are all on softs, while Verstappen is on hards – he’s up to 17th now, while Hamilton, into turn three, sees off Alonso on the outside and now sits sixth! Sainz leads, then Norris 1.413 behind, then Russell 3.727 behind, Stroll 4.492 behind – there’s a lot going on here!
Lap 1/53 Norris starts well but Sainz powers past! He’s clear in front, with Norris second, then Russell, then Alonso, Stroll and Hamilton, fighting with Ricciardo! That’s not the start Mercedes will have wanted!
Here it comes....
Here comes the formation lap, as we see that there’s rain in the distance, five-15 minutes away – McLaren think it’ll be light, but other teams think it’ll be lighter.
Right, here we go....
I quite like the detailing down the sides of the McLaren overalls.
Last term, this race was won by Bottas, with Verstappen second and Hamilton third. Bottas will do well to get anywhere good from 17th, but how easily Verstappen passes him will tell us plenty about how far he can go from the back of the grid.
Norris is ensconced in his car, and the race is almost upon us...
Toto Wolff of Mercedes says that usually P4 isn’t great to win from, but if Hamilton’s car is as fast as they think it is, then he’s in good shape to bring this one home. They enjoy the pressure they’re under and had a team meeting to remind themselves their job is the best in the world.
Instead, the drivers watch a ballerina dance and now make their way over to their cars. Lando Norris says he’s had a lot of things on his mind and he’s really excited – he thinks he can “score at least a good result,” but “as long as we’re ahead of the red cars” he’ll be happy. By the sounds of things, he reckons Hamilton will take this, but if he gets away nicely who knows.
There’s no anthem in Russia this week, which is a shame because it’s an absolute tune. Do they really need to be so skullduggerous they deprive us of it? By way of compensation, let’s indulge ourselves with this.
George Russell is “just excited”, feeling no pressure and looking forward to getting going. They don’t have the fastest car, he says, but thinks they do have the fastest car on the straight so are well-equipped to defend a position. He doesn’t reckon the start will be definitive, but is hoping for a nice slipstream from his big buddies in front.
There’s a bit of rain in the air, apparently, which adds to an already-intriguing situation. It might become “a bit crazy”, says Nicola Mazepin.
Johnny Herbert notes that he never won a pole and standing in front of Norris, he draws attention to the support he’s getting from his team. They’ve not laid down much rubber, so he should be able to get away well, but then Herbert tells us Sainz told him he’s worried about being on the “dirty side” of the track – there’s plenty of rubber deployed to help him.
This is also the first time since 1975 that none of the top three on the grid have won a Grand Prix. I’m absolutely certain Norris will be backing himself to sort that, but Sainz and Russell also have decent chances. Sainz says he’s surrounded by fast people so will need to start well if he’s to hold them off and thinks the car has the speed to win, but isn’t sure about the tyre degradation.
At the 1995 Argentinian Grand Prix, the grid ran Coulthard, Hill, Schumacher, Irvine, and that was the last time there were three Brits in the top four. Hill won, from Alesi from Schumacher, with a further Brit – Johnny Herbert – coming next.
In the pitlane, they reckon it’ll be a one-stop strategy for all, but those at the back will be starting on hards and staying out long, with those nearer the front moving through medium to softs.
- Norris (McLaren)
- Sainz Jr (Ferrari)
- Russell (Williams)
- Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Alonso (Alpine)
- Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Pérez (Red Bull)
- Ocon (Alpine)
- Vettel (Aston Martin)
- Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
- Schumacher (Haas)
- Mazepin (Haas)
- Giovinazzi (Alpha Romeo)
- Bottas (Mercedes)
- Latifi (Williams)
- Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Verstappen (Red Bull)
F1 has been criticised for all sorts over the years, most particularly the notion that we know who’s going to win before they’ve won, and sometimes there’s been something in it – just as there is sometimes is in all sports. But not this one this season, because we’ve already seen more twists and turns than in a UK petrol-station queue and we can be sure there are plenty more to come.
During qualifying, Lewis Hamilton looked set for yet another pole position, only to clip a wall driving into the pitlane, so was relieved of the honour by the increasingly impressive Lando Norris – an error he might live to regret given that Max Verstappen, who leads him the driver standings by five points, starts from the back of the grid.
However, the course at Sochi allows for some overtaking and the inclement weather looks to have departed, so all in all, we’re set for yet another memorable go-around.
Lights out: 3pm local, 1pm BST