2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix: Maiden win for Bottas
Winning in Formula 1 will always be special. Nothing will match the emotions that one feels as your national anthem is played in your honor, especially for the very first time. It is simply magical, surreal even, and during the Russian GP, that dream did come true for one Valtteri Bottas.
Having been outclassed by both Ferraris in all of the free practice sessions including qualifying, Bottas was heard stating adamantly, “Tomorrow is where it counts!” His objective for the weekend was to win, against all odds, in Russia.
Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid in Sochi. The last time Ferrari had a 1- 2 to start a race was back in Magny-Cours in 2008 (Raikkonen – Massa). Bottas took P3, with the struggling Lewis Hamilton down in P4. Daniel Ricciardo took P5 and Massa in the Williams filled up the 3rd row. Verstappen, Huklenberg, Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded up the top 10.
Everyone knew that Mercedes were quick in sectors 1 and 2, while Ferrari came to form in the 3rd sector. This gave Vettel and Raikkonen much concern as the race could be decided in the run to turns 1 and 2.
The start saw Ferrari and Mercedes get a good run to turn 1, but it was Bottas who got the inside line over Kimi and was able to swing past Sebastian and grab the lead by turn 2. Down the order, a collision between Palmer and Grosjean brought out the safety car. This bunched up the field, and when race control gave the green light, Valtteri took control of the field. He established seriously quick lap times. Lap 4 saw Bottas with a healthy 1.7 second gap to the chasing Ferrari of Vettel. There was no question: Bottas was in control of the race and the Finn kept increasing his lead, lap after lap after lap.
Mercedes called in Valtteri on lap 28 for his scheduled stop, while Hamilton, who was a non-factor in the race, pitted on lap 31. Ferrari, for its part, kept Vettel out until lap 35 to try to extend the gap. When Sebastian did come in, Bottas easily resumed his proper postion in P1. The only consolation for the German was that he came out ahead of Raikkonen.
From this point in time, it was a procession, despite the calls from the Ferrari pit wall for Vettel to push late in the race. Bottas had enough power to keep the Ferrari behind and take the checkered flag 0.617 seconds ahead of the chasing Ferrari. Vettel crossed the line in 2nd place with Kimi Raikkonen taking the last step on the podium.
In the driver’s championship tables, Sebastian Vettel now leads by 13 points over Lewis Hamilton, with Bottas and Kimi following close behind in 3rd and 4th, respectively.
With his win, Bottas now joins the elite list of F1 winners and could follow in the footsteps of fellow Finns Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Keke Rosberg as the fourth Finnish F1 World Champion.