Sunday's Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom threw up plenty of surprises, helping along by late showers that caught out many drivers.
Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton came out on top, followed by Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen almost a minute behind. Third place on the podium went to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, just over a minute behind the winner.
The race started under dry conditions, with McLaren's Lando Norris on pole and Sainz also at the front of the grid. Norris got a good start but Sainz managed to pull ahead going into Turn 2. Behind them, Hamilton struggled for position and fell back to sixth while Verstappen had to fight his way up from the back of the grid after he was forced to start there as a penalty for a new engine being installed in his car.
Norris managed to take back the lead spot from Sainz on lap 13 and would hold the position until the final laps when the first rain started to fall. Hamilton was now second and putting pressure on Norris whose car was starting to slide due to the slippery conditions. With just a handful of laps remaining and his grip levels starting to improve, Norris took a gamble and declined a team suggestion to pit for intermediate tires. Hamilton took the safer choice of going for the intermediates, and then the rain really started to pour.
Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen at the 2021 Formula One Russian Grand Prix
With Norris' gamble failing, his car was soon sliding off the track, allowing Hamilton to move into the lead. Norris then went into the pits, providing Verstappen with the chance to move up into a second, a position he never thought he would see after having started at the back of the grid.
Sainz, who managed to hold on, eventually crossed the line third, ahead of McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo in fourth and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in fifth. While Norris missed out on his maiden F1 win, he held on and eventually finished seventh.
There wasn't much action elsewhere, though Williams' Nicholas Latifi retired after hitting the barriers on lap 47. The sole other driver failing to finish was Mick Schumacher whose Haas suffered mechanical issues on lap 33.
Thanks to his latest win, the 100th of his career, Hamilton has returned to the top of the 2021 Drivers' Championship with 246.5 points. Verstappen is a close second with 244.5 points and Bottas is a distant third with 151 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes tops the leaderboard with 397.5 points, versus the 364.5 of Red Bull and 234 of McLaren. The next race on the calendar is a special Turkish Grand Prix in a fortnight.
2021 Formula One Russian Grand Prix
Below are the full results from the 2021 Formula One Russian Grand Prix:
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing +53.271 seconds
3) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +62.475 seconds
4) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren +65.607 seconds
5) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-Benz AMG +67.533 seconds
6) Fernando Alonso, Alpine +81.321 seconds
7) Lando Norris, McLaren +87.224 seconds
8) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo +88.955 seconds
9) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing +90.076 seconds
10) George Russell, Williams +100.551 seconds
11) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +116.198 seconds
12) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin +1 lap
13) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +1 lap
14) Esteban Ocon, Alpine +1 lap
15) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +1 lap
16) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo +1 lap
17) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +1 lap
18) Nikita Mazepin, Haas +2 laps
19) Nicholas Latifi, Williams DNF
NC) Mick Schumacher, Haas DNF