Hamilton already held the record for race victories having passed Michael Schumacher’s tally of 91 last year but reached a “dream” century in dramatic circumstances in Sochi, with Norris having looked set to claim his very first win before late heavy rain wreaked havoc.
Race leader Norris and McLaren’s decision to stay out on slick tyres spectacularly backfired as the young Brit spun off, allowing Hamilton, who was told to pit for intermediates by Mercedes, to capitalise. It was just his second win in 11 races, but one that saw him move marginally back ahead of Max Verstappen in the title race.
“It has taken a long time to get to 100 and I wasn’t even sure if it would come,” said Hamilton, the most successful driver in F1 history with seven world championships, 101 poles and now 100 wins. “It is a magical moment. I could only have dreamed of still being here, to have this opportunity to win these races, and to drive with such phenomenal talents this late on in my career. “I am so proud of everything we have done with Mercedes, on and off the track, and this is a special moment for everyone that has been part of it.
“My dad called me last night and he has always been that one to reassure me and to continue to support me. I feel incredibly grateful for the amazing support that I have had.” Team boss Toto Wolff added to Sky F1: “I think we are witnesses of a career that is just amazing. The 100th race victory is just mind-blowing. “I think if you were to be in awe that would be the wrong working relationship and friendship. But we realise that we are being part of a journey that no other sportsman in Formula 1 has done so far and that is beyond the races that we have won or the championships – from the human aspect it is something special.”
Hamilton’s victory came after making uncharacteristic mistakes in qualifying – crashing twice – and after losing three positions to seventh on the opening lap. “Going to bed last night I was not the happiest with the job I did yesterday,” he added. “I watched the replay and they were subtle mistakes but not ideal. “I was so determined when I woke up this morning and I was determined to just do the best job I could. I lost a lot of ground at the start trying to stay out of trouble.”