Lewis Hamilton has taken his 100th victory in today's Russian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen ended up in second place, taking full advantage of the last-minute rain that turned everything around. Carlos Sainz completes the podium in third place.
When the lights went out, Norris went off to stay in pole, but the slipstream ahead of Turn 2 meant Sainz moved ahead with Norris maintaining second place. George Russell kept second ahead of Stroll as Alonso moved up into 5th.
Hamilton was a bit blocked behind Norris in Turn one and subsequently dropped down to 7th, behind Ricciardo and ahead of Perez, Ocon and Raikkonen.
Alonso however started on hard tyres and soon had difficulty keeping up with the pace of the cars ahead. By the end of lap 2, the Spaniard was passed by Ricciardo and Hamilton, ending up just ahead of Perez who similarly started on the hard compound tyres. Perez went on to pass Alonso one lap later.
Vettel kept 11th, ahead of Leclerc. Bottas, who started from 17th after taking a 10-place grid penalty for changing engine components moved up into 14th by lap 3, followed by Verstappen in 15th. Two laps later, Verstappen passed Bottas as the Mercedes driver didn't even bother to defend his position. In the next few laps, Verstappen went on to pass Gasly and Leclerc
At the front, Sainz started to struggle as of lap 7, resulting in Norris ending up within DRS range of the leading Ferrari for the first time.
As many started to complain about graining on the medium tyres, Stroll was the first to make a stop, returning to the track in 15th position, 11s behind Bottas.
Half a lap later, after Norris said his front tyres were gone, he set fastest lap and took the lead away from Sainz. The Ferrari driver pitted the next lap in a far from ideal pitstop. This brought Ricciardo in second at 7.5s, followed by Hamilton and Perez, both within a second of one another.
Further pitstops for Ocon and Raikkonen brought Verstappen up in 6th, followed closely by Leclerc. The two hard tyre runners were chasing Alonso who was 5s ahead.
In the approach to the halfway mark, Ricciardo continued to hold up Hamilton, Perez, then Alonso, Verstappen and also Leclerc who had caught up. Norris meanwhile was easily 7 tenths quicker, so enjoyed his team mate's work.
Then, on lap 23, Ricciardo finally pitted, perhaps reacting to Mercedes bringing out their pitcrew. Ricciardo didn't have the greatest stop with Hamilton responding with fastest lap. Ricciardo himself, back in 12th, also added two fastest lap.
On lap 26, Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel pitted. Hamilton emerged in 9th, ahead of Ricciardo. Verstappen in 12th, behind Russell and just ahead of Ocon. Verstappen soon passed Russell though while Hamilton recorded purple sectors to put the pressure on Stroll in 8th. Helped by his new tyres, Hamilton rapidly progressed up into 5th after passing Stroll, Sainz and Gasly.
Another two laps later, Norris pitted from the lead to take on the hard compound tyres. He returned to the track in 4th place with a wonderful 8s of clear track ahead of him.
On lap 36, Perez and Alonso, the two men in front and the only front runners left on their hard tyre from the start, pitted. Perez rejoined in 5th place after a slow pitstop. He returned to the track just ahead of Verstappen while Alonso returned in 7th, just behind Verstappen and less than a second ahead of Stroll. That didn't last very long though as Alonso punched past Verstappen the next lap to take 6th place.
Norris was therefore back in the lead, this time however with only 2s in hand over Lewis Hamilton. Carlos Sainz followed in third place, 20s down the road.
6 laps from the end light rain started to fall in sector two which almost caught out Norris when they first passed through the wet section. Rain further intensified and saw Norris go wide again as Hamilton reported a very slippery track but very little rain.
On lap 47, Bottas was pitted to take on intermediates. The crew was ready for Hamilton as well, but he chose to continue.
Ricciardo, Sainz, Verstappen pitted the next lap, followed by Hamilton. The latter had an easy choice to make, as Perez behind him was 48s behind. Hamilton did say "it's not raining man", but got told more rain was coming.
Indeed, a lot more followed soon but still with very different situations across the track. Hamilton closed in very rapidly and with 2 laps to go, the World Champion breezed past just when Norris nearly hit the barriers.
Alonso, Ocon, Perez Gasly and Giovinazzi meanwhile also lost considerably positions by staying out too long on the dry tyres. It had become simply too wet to keep slicks working.
When Norris eventually pitted 2 laps from the end, Verstappen had already moved up into second place. Norris returned only in 8th position, three tenths behind Kimi Räikkönen. The McLaren driver still managed to pass the Alfa Romeo and finish 7th, a far cry from the win that had been on the cards until 4 laps from the end.
The splash of rain caused for unexpected excitement, and essentially a true win situation for Max Verstappen as the Dutchman ended up second after starting from 20th.
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||53||+53.271s||18|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||53||+65.607s||12|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||53||+81.321s||8|
|7||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||53||+87.224s||7|
|8||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||53||+88.955s||4|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||53||+90.076s||2|
|10||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||53||+100.551s||1|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||53||+106.198s||0|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||52||+1 lap||0|
|13||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||52||+1 lap||0|
|14||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||52||+1 lap||0|
|15||16||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||52||+1 lap||0|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||52||+1 lap||0|
|17||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||52||+1 lap||0|
|18||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||51||+2 laps||0|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||47||DNF||0|
|NC||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||32||DNF||0|