Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas held off late charge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to secure his fist ever Formula 1 victory in the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.
By Carlo Chikomba
The Finnish driver was in top form right from the onset as he jumped Vettel and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at the start from his third position on the grid.
He never looked like surrendering that lead for long periods of the race, dominating the track until the closing stages, when Vettel used a late pit stop to add late pressure on Bottas.
The four-time champion mounted a late challenge on the 27 year old, closing the gap to within a second and a half with 10 laps to go but the Finn responded well and kept Vettel at arm’s length for the rest of the race.
The same good fortune could not be said of Bottas’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton though, with the Brit enduring another frustrating day at the office as he finished only fourth behind Raikkonen.
That result sees Hamilton slip to 13 points behind Vettel in the championship, with Bottas just sitting 10 points behind the British three-time champion.
The British driver, however, should be grateful for Bottas’ excellent performance as without it, his fierce rival Vettel’s lead would be as great as 20 points.
The win puts Bottas in the frame for the title, an unforeseen situation given the Finnish,s rather modst track record.
“It’s been quite a while, more than 80 races, but worth the wait, well worth the learning curve.
“This strange opportunity came to me over the winter and I have to thank the team for making this possible.” said Bottas.