Lando Norris had looked on course to convert his maiden F1 pole position into a first-ever win after leading the majority of the race, but the decision not to pit for intermediates as late rain fell proved costly.

Those who pitted to switch from slicks to wets benefitted hugely as Hamilton made up a 25-second deficit as the rain fell harder to pass Norris when he slid off the soaked Sochi track as he desperately tried to cling onto the lead.

Norris and McLaren reacted too late and the 21-year-old Briton ultimately fell to seventh having turned in a courageous drive to resist Hamilton until the rain fell. 

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen turned in an epic recovery drive to finish second behind Hamilton having fought his way from the back of the grid following an engine penalty.

The Dutchman looked to be set for a finish in the lower-end of the points but pitting early for inters proved key to his late jump up to second.

 

 

Hamilton has reclaimed the lead of the world championship but only holds a two-point advantage over Verstappen and is likely to face a grid penalty before the end of the season.

It was a far from straightforward race for the seven-time world champion, who found himself as low as seventh on the opening lap following a poor start.

But running longer in the opening stint enabled Hamilton to make up crucial  ground, before the Briton turned in a typically relentless charge up to second as he hunted down Norris.

The late deluge turned the race on its head as Hamilton surged past Norris to seal one of his hardest-fought wins and reach an unprecedented milestone in F1.

Behind the championship protagonists, early race leader Carlos Sainz completed the podium for Ferrari in third, some nine seconds behind Verstappen.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo missed out on a second consecutive podium by just over three seconds as he headed Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in fourth.

Fernando Alonso was sixth for Alpine ahead of Norris, Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo, the Red Bull of Sergio Perez and Williams driver George Russell, who completed the points scorers in 10th.

Full race results from the F1 2021 Russian Grand Prix.