Lewis Hamilton survived a dramatic rain-soaked climax to snatch victory at 2021 Russian Grand Prix, which marks his 100th race win in Formula One.
Hamilton made a slow getaway which dropped him to seventh but executed a long first stint as Lando Norris initially lost the lead to Carlos Sainz, only to reclaim the lead on Lap 13.
Norris proceeded to control the race from a fast-charging Hamilton until rain arrived on Lap 46 and McLaren failed to predict the conditions correctly, which saw Norris left out until the end of Lap 51 as he struggled for grip in worsening conditions.
Hamilton meanwhile pitted at end of Lap 49 for intermediate tyres which enabled him to sprint through and overturn a 25s deficit for his 100th race victory.
Max Verstappen meanwhile carved his way through the grid to finish second in the wet finish ahead of Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso, Norris, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and George Russell.
In the driver standings, Hamilton regained the championship lead by two points from Verstappen as Bottas, Norris and Perez continue to round out the top five, although Norris was able to collect an additional point for fastest lap.
Mercedes meanwhile extended their lead in the constructor championship over Red Bull to 33 points, whilst McLaren extended their lead over Ferrari in the fight for third to 16.5 points.
At lights out, Norris made a bright start but a lock-up at Turn Two saw Sainz claim the lead and begin to bridge a two-second gap in the opening laps.
Further behind the top two, Hamilton got bogged down to seventh on the start as Russell held third from Stroll who had leapt from eighth to fourth ahead of Alonso and Ricciardo and formed a DRS train comprising of several drivers.
Leclerc meanwhile made a lightning start from 19th to climb to 12th whilst Bottas and Verstappen improved to 15 and 17th positions respectively.
Up front, Norris chose to manage his tyres which paid dividends as he quickly reeled his former McLaren teammate in and made a late braking move into Turn 13 to reclaim the lead on Lap 13.
Stroll meanwhile on that same lap triggered the undercut as he pitted for hard tyres which paid off as he displaced Russell after the Brit stopped a lap later, which unleashed Ricciardo and Hamilton who had both cleared Alonso quickly.
Norris however proceeded to control the race out in front despite the unpredictable threat of rain lurking darkly across the circuit, as he fended off his teammate – Ricciardo until the Aussie pitted on Lap 23, before making his own stop on Lap 29 just two laps after Hamilton made his stop two laps earlier.
Hamilton though had to clear Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Sainz in the early stages of his second stint on the medium tyres
Verstappen also stopped at the same time as Hamilton despite being on the alternate strategy of hard tyres which saw him carve his way through the field up to fifth, yet initially struggled on his fresh medium tyres after attacking too hard early on in the second stint of the race.
Perez meanwhile built up a nine second lead over Alonso as both drivers went long on the alternate strategy until they pitted at start of Lap 37, which unleashed Norris although the 21 year-old was pushed hard by Hamilton who maintained a gap of between one to two seconds off his compatriot.
Rain however decided to materialise on Lap 46 as spectators scrambled for raincoats and umbrellas, as Norris and Hamilton gambled on staying out despite the former struggling for grip through Turn Six where the rain intensified whilst others dived in for intermediate tyres.
Hamilton though was instructed to pit at the end of Lap 49 by Mercedes for intermediates and re-joined with a 25s deficit to Norris, who suddenly lost all grip as his lead was rapidly ripped away with Hamilton making the move on Lap 51 as Norris slid wide in the wet conditions.
Norris consequently pitted which dropped him to seventh at the flag as he saw his maiden F1 victory cruelly snatched away.
Hamilton thus was left unchallenged as he sped away to his 100th race victory in 281 F1 race entries which handed him the title lead, despite Verstappen finishing second ahead of Sainz and Ricciardo.
Bottas meanwhile was sat 14th and on course for a non-points finish but he was amongst the early intermediate tyre gamblers, which saw him rise to fifth at the flag ahead of Alonso and Russell.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||53||1h 30m 41.001|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||53||+ 53.271|
|3||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||53||+ 62.475|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||53||+ 65.607|
|5||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||53||+ 67.533|
|6||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||53||+ 81.321|
|7||Lando Norris||McLaren||53||+ 87.224|
|8||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||53||+ 88..955|
|9||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||53||+ 90.076|
|10||George Russell||Williams||53||+ 100.551|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||53||+ 106.198|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||52||+ 1 Lap|
|13||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||52||+ 1 Lap|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||52||+ 1 Lap|
|15||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||52||+ 1 Lap|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||52||+ 1 Lap|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||52||+ 1 Lap|
|18||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||51||+ 2 Laps|