Russian GP: Bottas resists Vettel for maiden F1 win

    Published On Apr 30, 2017 08:34:00 PM

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    Bottas got the jump on both Ferraris at the start, leading into Turn 2 from Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton, and from there the Finn was in command.

    Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas scored the first win of his F1 career on Sunday after holding off the charging Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel for a superb victory in the 2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen made it two red cars on the Sochi podium, as Lewis Hamilton trailed home a distant fourth in the second Mercedes.

    Bottas got the jump on both Ferraris at the start, leading into Turn 2 from Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton, and from there the Finn was in command, only losing the lead during pit stops. Vettel put him under intense pressure in the closing laps, but he refused to crack and took the chequered flag just 0.6s ahead.

    There was drama even before the start in Russia when Fernando Alonso reported that his McLaren was losing charge. When told to try various things he tetchily told his crew to try it themselves as he already had and nothing worked. The orange and black car ground to a halt on the grid formation lap, delaying the start and causing the race to be shortened by a lap. Bottas would have cause to be grateful for that.

    Then, as Bottas made a blinding start to head the Ferraris and Hamilton, Lance Stroll spun his Williams after contact with Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, while further back Haas's Romain Grosjean made contact with Jolyon Palmer’s Renault and both retired on the spot. Out came the safety car for three laps.

    Bottas resumed comfortably as soon as the track went green again, and began to open the gap to Vettel. By lap 21 it was an easy 5.3s as the pit stop window loomed, but then a combination of traffic and Vettel speeding up saw the Ferrari driver beginning to close the deficit dramatically. When Bottas made his sole stop, to switch from the ultrasoft Pirelli tyres to the supersofts, after 27 laps, it was down to 2.5s.

    Ferrari then seemed in two minds how long to keep their man out. Initially they told him to pit on the 33rd lap, before deciding on the 34th. His was a slow stop, due to the front left wheel sticking, and when he resumed he was second again and Bottas had a 4.6s lead. But, after his stop on the 29th lap, Vettel’s third placed team mate Raikkonen had demonstrated the Ferrari threat by lapping a second faster than the Mercedes, and now we had a race as Vettel showed similar pace and he began slashing Bottas’ lead.

    After 40 laps, with 12 to go, it was down to just 1.5s. Soon he would be within range to use his DRS system to attempt an overtaking move, and the closing laps were real nail-biters as they threaded their way through traffic.

    Going into the final lap Vettel was only seven-tenths of a second behind. But keeping his nerve and lapping Felipe Massa’s Williams and leaving the German to follow the Brazilian through the long, fast Turn 3, Bottas got the break he needed and took a crucial victory for Mercedes by 0.6s.

    Raikkonen was third, 10.3s behind, with the very unhappy Hamilton fourth after suffering intermittent overheating issues for much of the afternoon.

    Max Verstappen was a lonely fifth on a day when Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo succumbed early to rear brake problems, while Force India scored their 14th consecutive set of points, and maintained their 2017 record of getting both cars into them, as Sergio Perez led home team mate Esteban Ocon, the latter a career-best seventh.

    A whopping 40-lap stint on ultrasofts earned Nico Hulkenberg eighth for Renault, after Massa dropped from sixth place with a suspected puncture on the 41st lap. He recovered to ninth, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz taking the final point.

    On a day when Bottas joined the F1 elite in tremendous style, Vettel came away with an extended championship lead over Hamilton. His advantage is up to 13 points, 86 to 73, while Bottas has closed in on 63 in third, with Raikkonen fourth on 49. In the constructors’ stakes Mercedes now lead Ferrari by just a single point, 136 to 135.

    RESULTS - 52 LAPS:

    POSDRIVERCARGAP
    1Valtteri BottasMercedes1h28m08.743s
    2Sebastian VettelFerrari0.617s
    3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari11.000s
    4Lewis HamiltonMercedes36.320s
    5Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault1m00.416s
    6Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m26.788s
    7Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes1m35.004s
    8Nico HulkenbergRenault1m36.188s
    9Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
    10Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
    11Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
    12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
    13Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1 Lap
    14Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Honda1 Lap
    15Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
    16Pascal WehrleinSauber/Ferrari2 Laps
    -Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/RenaultBrakes
    -Romain GrosjeanHaas/FerrariCollision
    -Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/HondaNot started
    -Jolyon PalmerRenaultCollision

    DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP:

    POSDRIVERPOINTS
    1Sebastian Vettel86
    2Lewis Hamilton73
    3Valtteri Bottas63
    4Kimi Raikkonen49
    5Max Verstappen35
    6Daniel Ricciardo22
    7Sergio Perez22
    8Felipe Massa18
    9Carlos Sainz11
    10Esteban Ocon9
    11Nico Hulkenberg6
    12Romain Grosjean4
    13Kevin Magnussen4
    14Daniil Kvyat2
    15Pascal Wehrlein0
    16Lance Stroll0
    17Antonio Giovinazzi0
    18Jolyon Palmer0
    19Stoffel Vandoorne0
    20Fernando Alonso0
    21Marcus Ericsson0

    CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP:

    POSCONSTRUCTORPOINTS
    1Mercedes136
    2Ferrari135
    3Red Bull/Renault57
    4Force India/Mercedes31
    5Williams/Mercedes18
    6Toro Rosso/Renault13
    7Haas/Ferrari8
    8Renault6
    9Sauber/Ferrari0
    10McLaren/Honda0
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