Bottas Edges Vettel to Win Maiden Grand Prix in Russia
SOCHI, Russia- It took 81 races to achieve, plus a little indication of his first pole at the last race in Bahrain. But at long last Valterri Bottas, who changed teams at the start of the season, got his wish Sunday afternoon at the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom by winning his first race of his career, just edging Sebastian Vettel by just six tenths of a second. Kimi Raikkonen finished in third.
“Amazing.” Said Bottas. “It took quite a while, more than eighty races for me, but definitely worth the wait, a learning curve. It was a strange opportunity for me to join this team and they (Mercedes) made it possible, so I would like to thank them and the team, it would have not been possible. We have had a tricky beginning of the year, and today it was very close. And we need to keep pushing with both cars, all the time. But just very happy now.”
Bottas began the race by slipstreaming Vettel at the start and passed him, taking the lead for a very comfortable 28 laps, widening the gap as high as 3.7 seconds by lap 28. Vettel controlled the race for the next seven laps, before also coming in for his first stop. Bottas regained the lead again on lap 35, but Vettel kept coming closer to Bottas towards the conclusion of the race, narrowing the gap to 1.8 seconds when the Ferrari driver had fresher rubber in comparison to the Finn. But Bottas himself managed to hold on to the victory, thanks to some last minute passing of slower cars, which gave him the opportunity to take his first win of his career.
Considering it was a great day for Bottas, it was not for Fernando Alonso. The McLaren-Honda driver had a malfunction with his Hybrid system on the formation lap. However, one lap later with the start of the race, Lance Stroll was clipped by Nico Hulkenberg, but continued in the race, while Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer were involved in a collision, which brought out the safety car for the next three laps.
Lewis Hamilton struggled with temperatures throughout the entire race, but managed to bring his Mercedes home to finish fourth, while Max Verstappen took fifth in a lonely race in his Red Bull. Both Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon took sixth and seventh, respectively, while Hulkenberg finished eighth in his Renault, changing his tires very late in the race. Felipe Massa and Sainz Jr. rounded out the top ten point finishers.
Bottas was very honest afterwards, but felt that one factor gave him his first win.
“Normally starting from the second row is not too bad, but I had a good start, if anything slightly better than the guys in front.” He stated. “Obviously slipstreaming inside turn one, that was OK. But a little bit more happy about the safety car race, actually.
With four rounds completed and a return to Europe for the next two races, Vettel holds a 13 point lead in the drivers’ standings over Hamilton, while AMG Mercedes lead Ferrari by a single point in the constructor’s world championship.
RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX
At the Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia
Final Race results
1 Valterri Bottas (FIN) AMG Mercedes
2 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari - 0.6 seconds behind
3 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
4 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) AMG Mercedes
5 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
6 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India
7 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India
8 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
9 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams Martini Racing
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Toro Rosso
11 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams Martini Racing
12 Dani Kvyat (RUS) Toro Rosso
13 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
14 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren-Honda
15 Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
16 Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber
17 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing—brakes- lap 6
18 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team—lap 1
19 Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault—Accident- lap 1
20 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren- Honda—did not start
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.