When it comes to sporting drama, this year’s edition of the Formula One World Championship is generating an incredible amount of it and with the title pendulum swinging both one way and the other, it looks as if the race for overall supremacy is going to go down to the wire.
Because for each time Max Verstappen looks as if he will be the man to dethrone the current pitlane king, Lewis Hamilton reminds everyone just why he is a seven-time and defending Drivers’ Champion.
A status that comes from earning the largest number of individual race wins and with that number standing at 99 before the recent Russian Grand Prix, all eyes on where on the man looking to then make it 100.
While this was a task that would have certainly been made easier by Red Bull’s decision to install a new power plant within the chassis of Max Verstappen’s car and one that could provide long-term gain for short-term pain.
Because with that decision by Christian Horner, it meant that the then championship leader would start the Russian race at the back of the grid and with that, it meant Red Bull’s hopes in Sochi were surely nothing more than damage limitation.
Especially as before events at the former Olympic host city, Red Bull’s number one pilot had a five-point advantage at the top of the championship standings and with the difference between first and second place being seven points per race, the outlook was one lacking fizz for the Dutchman.
Of course, a win for Mercedes was not necessarily a given either and with Hamilton not managing to snare first place on the grid for the race itself, he would have to surpass the efforts of surprise pole sitter Lando Norris.
With it being an all-British front row, the focus was whether or not the younger of the two compatriots could keep his McLaren at the front and for the majority of the race, it looked as if Norris was to land a first career Formula One victory.
A victory that would have seen rather long odds on the FanDuel sportsbook at the start of the weekend and with the 21-year-old snaring pole position for himself, those odds would have significantly tumbled.
While those odds would have further shortened for those looking to make an in-play wager and with the lap count tumbling, it looked as if Norris was going to lead the McLaren team to a sensational win in Russia.
That was until a dramatic late spin in the wet weather conditions and with a huge invite being offered to Hamilton in his Mercedes, it was all the Stevenage-born star would need to take the lead of the race.
A lead that would soon turn into the 100th race win of his illustrious career and in doing so the 36-year-old would subsequently wrestle back top spot in the overall standings – although only by a slender margin of two points.
As mentioned earlier, the remit of Red Bull and their Dutch delight was to activate an operation of damage limitation and after finishing second to Hamilton, it can be considered as a job that was incredibly well done.
Especially as the son of Jos Verstappen timed his late pitstop to absolute perfection and although the rain caused pain for McLaren, it offered a huge element of salvation for another of Formula One’s next generation.
Such a shrewd move in the pits, catapulted the now title challenger to second from seventh at Sochi and in doing so, it meant that the championship title race is now incredibly poised for the next round in Turkey.
Not only that, but now Red Bull can make full use of their new power plant and with their car potentially being even quicker than Mercedes, it means when all things are equal, the advantage will be theirs once again.
Then again, even when things are not equal and Verstappen has to start at the back of the grid, it is visible to see just how much additional horsepower he could rely on in Russia and should he be on the front row in Turkey, he will be even more of a threat to his nearest championship rival.