Lewis Hamilton claimed a dramatic late win, his 100th in Formula 1, and the championship lead at Sochi as Lando Norris suffered heartbreak
Carlos Sainz took the lead from the open, and Hamilton slipped down into seventh behind Spanish veteran Fernando Alonso.
With Valtteri Bottas well down the pack and expected to perform a blocking role against Max Verstappen, there would have been disappointment at Mercedes when it took just seven laps for the Dutchman to sweep past the Finn.
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After 13 laps Norris was able to reassert his position at the head of the pack, with Verstappen up to ninth as he closed in on his championship rival.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP hugs Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1 in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo b

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The threat of rain was constant in the first half of the race, with Verstappen kept out even as he complained ‘I can’t turn the car’ to his team. Hamilton moved up into second and had a brief chance to extend his lead over Verstappen until he was brought in for a tire change, along with the Red Bull driver.
On lap 29 Norris pitted and came out in fourth - with the front three yet to pit with Hamilton in behind him.
With eight laps remaining, the drizzle started and umbrellas came out. Norris was riding for his first ever win, while Hamilton wanted his century and the title lead. The pressure was on for both drivers. Norris slipped and almost let Hamilton through as conditions worsened, but Hamilton pitted with more rain expected.
As the rain intensified Hamilton raced towards his opponent and with Norris in his sights, the British youngster spun out and was able to recover to get back into second as Hamilton raced away. Norris was forced to pit as Verstappen took second - leaving him two points behind the current champion.

HOW DID HAMILTON MANAGE THAT?

Hamilton spent what seemed to be most of the previous season complaining to his team about the state of his tires. This time, he rejected the call from his team to tell him to come into the pits with just a few laps remaining.
At the time, it looked as if Hamilton could have been right, but in retrospect it was a vital intervention. The championship is his to lose, and it has not looked so good in the past.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 26, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Yuri Kochetkov - Pool/Getty Images)

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DRIVER OF THE DAY - LANDO NORRIS (MCLAREN)

Norris suffered heartbreak but there was little that was his fault. He asked to pit, but for some reason did not get the nod from his team in time. He did well to regain his lead after losing it at the first lap, and showed composure to get back into the mix after spinning out.
Verstappen deserves recognition to racing all the way back into second and not giving his title rival an inch. There is still so much to come from this season.

Lando Norris (McLaren) - GP of Russia 2021

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PIT EXCHANGE OF THE DAY - 'SHUT UP'

Lando Norris had perhaps the best driver of all time breathing down his neck as he attempted to win his first-ever F1 GP. He knew it was raining, he was straining to make sure he crossed the line ahead of everyone. When his team told him there was a little bit of drizzle out there, 'SHUT UP!' seemed the only reasonable response.
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