'Devastated' Norris admits to wrong call in Sochi finale

Lando Norris cast a defeated figure after Sunday's dramatic Russian Grand Prix, admitting that his call to ignore... The post 'Devastated' Norris admits to wrong call in Sochi finale appeared first on F1i.com.

'Devastated' Norris admits to wrong call in Sochi finale

Lando Norris cast a defeated figure after Sunday's dramatic Russian Grand Prix, admitting that his call to ignore his team's timely advice to pit for intermediate tyres in the closing stages of the race was wrong.

Norris was narrowly leading and holding off a charging Lewis Hamilton with a handful of laps to go when a bout of rain hit an area of the Sochi track.

The late shower saw the bulk of the field head to the pitlane for a tyre change, but Hamilton was among those who stopped the latest, having initially ignored a first call from the Mercedes pitwall.

Norris was also encouraged to make a quick switch by his McLaren team but the race leader elected to press on, until conditions worsened and significantly hampered the slick-shod Briton's pace.

As he slid off the road on multiple occasions and Hamilton slipped through at Turn 5 to take the lead, Norris finally made a late stop two laps from the checkered flag, but the overdue move left him a lowly P7 at the end of the day.

  • Read also: Hamilton hits 100 as rain wrecks Norris' golden chance

"I guess we made a call to stay out," Norris said. "I think we stand by that call of course. It was the wrong one at the end of the day, but I made a decision just as much as the team.

"In fact, it was more that they thought I should box and I decided to stay out. So it was my decision. I thought it was the way to go."

On a track that was initially damp in only a few corners, Norris thought that he could pull off another remarkable win for McLaren. But as the shower intensified and spread to other parts of the circuit, the Briton quickly realized that his fate was sealed.

"I felt I did everything I could, even when it got tricky at the end," he explained. "I made a couple of mistakes but still kept Lewis behind and started to pull away a little bit.

"So it was a bit of luck, like the laps I was out before Lewis boxed, it was I think perfectly fine for the tyres I was on, and I got told the rain was going to stay the same.

"If it was the same amount then we made the right decision and I think staying out was the correct decision. But it obviously got a lot wetter than we as a team expected and that had us over in the end."

Norris admitted that making the call with the checkered flag in sight was a very difficult decision.

"If there are 20 to go you are maybe not as aggressive with decisions, but we did what we thought was right, which I'm unhappy with of course," he added "It was wrong at the end of the day.

"Everything until then, the guys did an excellent job and have done all weekend.

"So I'm happy with basically everything apart from that one decision which we'll review and hopefully try not to make again."

To add insult to injury, Norris was summoned to the stewards' office after the race for crossing - or rather sliding across - the pit entry white line just before his late stop to change tyres.

The inadvertent infraction due to the damp track could earn the McLaren driver a time penalty that could potentially set him back several spots in the race's final classification.

Update: The Russian Grand Prix stewards handed a reprimand to Norris for "crossing the painted area between the Pit Entry and the track". The McLaren driver therefore remains seventh.

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Hamilton "wasn't even sure 100th win would ever come"

Lewis Hamilton has finally achieved a new milestone in the sport of Formula 1 by clinching his 100th... The post Hamilton "wasn't even sure 100th win would ever come" appeared first on F1i.com.

Hamilton "wasn't even sure 100th win would ever come"

Lewis Hamilton has finally achieved a new milestone in the sport of Formula 1 by clinching his 100th Grand Prix victory in 281 race starts since his debut in Australia in 2007.

It's an achievement that no other driver in the history of the sport has ever managed to do. But the 36-year-old, seven time champion admitted that he'd started to fear that this moment might never happen, after four consecutive races without a win in 2021.

"It's taken a long time to get to 100 and I wasn't even sure whether or not it would come," Hamilton told the media in parc ferme after the end of a thrilling 2021 Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton started the race from fourth place but lost out at the start, leaving him running in seventh over the opening laps and struggling to pass the slower cars ahead of him.

It allowed Pole winner Lando Norris to pull away into a commanding lead, which Hamilton then had to cut down to size after everyone made their pit stops.

"Lando did such an amazing job, he had incredible pace," Hamilton acknowledged.

The end of the race was thrown into disarray by the weather. Even as Hamilton was fighting Norris for the lead, heavy rain started to fall meaning that teams and drivers had to decide whether to pit for intermediate tyres or not.

Hamilton was initially resistant to the idea of coming in and felt the rain was already abating, but he was forcefully overruled by the Mercedes pit wall who had the weather radar at their disposal.

"Obviously the team made a great call right at the end," he acknowledged. "I didn't want to let Lando go, but of course I didn't know what the weather was doing.

"I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful to all these men and women that are here and back in the factory," he added. "Because, wow: 100!"

Norris attempted to stay out but was eventually overwhelmed by the conditions and finished in seventh. Hamilton paid tribute to his compatriot's efforts this weekend.

“It would have been tough to have got past Lando. He had great pace, he did the fastest lap, so it would have been tough to get past unless we caught some traffic or something, or he made a mistake which he hasn’t been doing at all.

"He's doing such a great job for McLaren," Hamilton added. "It was very bittersweet to see my old team ahead. They've been doing so well, they won the last race, so they're doing fantastic - powered by Mercedes!

Today's race had certainly been a huge turnaround for Hamilton after the events of qualifying on Saturday in which rain once again played a major part, including two spins for Hamilton in the final minutes.

"Going to bed last night, I obviously wasn't the happiest with the job that I did yesterday," he accepted. "I watched the replay over and over again and there were subtle mistakes, just not ideal.

"I was so determined when I came in and woke up this morning, I was determined to do the best job I could."

©Mercedes

Victory in Sochi means that Hamilton is now back in the lead of the drivers championship with eight races remaining in the 2021 season.

But Hamilton will be surprised that it's not by more, after his chief rival Max Verstappen overcame a back row start to finish in second place on Sunday.

"Obviously Max must have done a really great job to come up to second from last," Hamilton said. "There is nothing I can do about who is behind me, that's a dream result for Max. But I’m grateful for the points.”

“To come from last to second is a huge effort. The Red Bulls are so fast,” he added in an interview with Sky Sports F1.

“They’ve been quickest pretty much most of the year. They’ve done a great job. To come from last, have a penalty, two penalties ... Whatever it was, to come back to second, that is mega damage limitation.

“We’ve got to see what we can do moving forwards. It’s going to be tough to beat them, but we’re going to give it everything.

"We've got our work cut out!"

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