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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Seidl: McLaren team equally to blame for Norris tyre call

Andreas Seidl says Lando Norris' decision not to pit for intermediate tyres in the closing stages of the... The post Seidl: McLaren team equally to blame for Norris tyre call appeared first on F1i.com.

Seidl: McLaren team equally to blame for Norris tyre call

Andreas Seidl says Lando Norris' decision not to pit for intermediate tyres in the closing stages of the Russian Grand Prix was the result of a collective fault that also involved the McLaren pitwall.

While leading Sunday's race, Norris attempted to force the issue on the partially damp track, telling his team that he wanted to commit to remaining on his slick tyres amid the late shower to try and pull off a win.

The pressure on the Briton was momentarily relieved when Lewis Hamilton who had chased down the McLaren driver opted to stop for a set of intermediates.

Norris pressed on only to be caught out by the worsening conditions that destroyed his lead over Hamilton and ultimately forced him into a late stop for inters just two laps from the checkered flag.

After the race, the devastated 21-year-old, who finished P7 on the road, rued his decision to stay out but insisted it was made in the heat of the moment based on his assessment of the track conditions but also on the information he was being given by his team.

"From one lap one to the other, the whole thing changed," Norris explained. "The game changed completely.

"That final lap when Lewis boxed the slick tyre was still the tyre to be on. On that lap they asked ‘do you want to go on to the inter?’ And for the lap I just did, I didn’t, because the slick tyre was easily the correct tyre.

"Of course, now that’s the wrong decision. But my feeling I had I didn’t know there was going to be a lot more rain and there’s no way of me knowing unless they told me there’s going to be a lot more rain, which they didn’t."

  • Read also: 'Devastated' Norris admits to wrong call in Sochi finale

Ultimately, Seidl judged that team and driver were equally to blame for the botched call.

"He knows this is part of the game, part of the learning as well,” Seidl told Sky F1.

"But not just on his side, the team's side as well because I think there is always a chance to overrule him form the pit wall side from the information we were getting.

"But in the end, together we made this call to stay out.

"I think on Lewis' side we heard the discussions and it was pretty much the same ongoing and on Lewis' side he had the chance to wait for what we were doing and do the opposite because he was in P2 at this point and we didn't have this opportunity.

"We wanted to go for the win, that's why we decided together to stay out. That's why it didn't work out."

Asked if in hindsight, he regretted the call not to pit earlier, Seidl said: "We finished P7, so we regret it at the moment!

"It’s a decision we made together with the team, with the driver and the pit wall. The result is we didn’t get it together today compared to some other teams.

"We will analyse it, learn from it and try to do better next time."

Despite the disappointment, Seidl praised Norris for his performance in Sochi and for nearly delivering a second remarkable win in succession to McLaren.

"I think apart from the last two, three laps, what we've seen from the team again together with him from his side when he pulled off the pole and also today in the race, it's impressive what he's pulling off in his third year in Formula 1," said the German.

"And that's why of course we need to analyse together with him what we could have done better today, learn from it, that's always the first thing we do - it doesn't matter what the outcome of a race weekend is.

"But then at the same time it's important to see all the positives also from his side and come back stronger in Turkey."

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