While Verstappen’s race to catch up leads the Dutchman to the podium in second place, Mercedes star Hamilton finally cracks the record of 100 Grand Prix victories on his team’s parade route (eighth victory in eighth) – and then immediately knows who he is going to thanked: “That was a fantastic decision with the rain tires,” cheered Hamilton on the radio.
The reigning world champion initially refused to head for the pits despite an announcement from the command post when it started to rain five laps before the end. “I had Lando (Norris, leader; d. Editor) right in front of me, was so close. And it wasn’t that bad yet, it didn’t feel so wet, except in turns five and seven, ”explains Hamilton. “I thought: 24 seconds (for the pit stop; d. Ed.) In three laps, I’ll never catch up. But on the next lap the rain got heavier and then I’m clean. I just relied on the team. “
Instead of the first victory for Norris, there is already the 100th for Hamilton in Sochi: “Unbelievable, just an unbelievable number. Today it is just a headline and tomorrow it may be forgotten again, but in five to ten years we can say that we have been part of this very special success story, “says Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff, paying homage to his superstar. Nevertheless, the success in Russia is one of the team: “Today the strategy department and our weatherman won the race. We knew that the great weather was still to come, ”says Wolff.
With all the joy in the Mercedes warehouse, there is also one downer. “The fact that Verstappen finished second makes it a bit bittersweet,” admits Wolff. But the Austrian also classifies: “Before the rain, Max was seventh and we were second, that’s about the same point difference as with one and two. We have to take it that way now. But he’s the second winner today. “
Verstappen is also lucky in another scene on Sunday, because although the World Cup aspirant drives with little risk in his race to catch up, it almost goes wrong once. Verstappen: “Coming from behind there really happens a lot, even on the first lap alone. You have to stay out of all trouble. Before me, Charles (Lecerc; d. Red.) And Seb (Vettel; d. Red) fought, so I had to evade and almost lost my wing. There were a few hairy scenes, but in the end everything went well. “