Bottas achieves first victory by holding off Vettel

Valtteri Bottas fended off a late charge from four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to secure his first Formula 1 victory in the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi.

The Mercedes driver crossed the line just 0.617 seconds ahead of Vettel’s Ferrari with Kimi Raikkonen taking his first podium of the season with third.

Lewis Hamilton finished a disappointing fourth position.

Bottas made a storming start from third on the grid, benefiting from a slow-starting Raikkonen and then passing Vettel on the run to Turn 2 to take the lead.

The race was then neutralised shortly after when the safety car was deployed following a collision between Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer at Turn 2.

At the restart, Bottas put the hammer down and gradually went about building up a lead over Vettel that grew to just over four seconds.

Bottas caught traffic ahead of the pitstops, allowing Vettel to cut the gap to 2.5 seconds before Mercedes called Bottas in at the end of lap 27 of 52 to swap ultra-softs for super-softs.

Vettel stayed out for an extra seven laps, with his pace remaining competitive, and rejoined just over four seconds adrift of Bottas following his stop for the super-softs.

Championship leader Vettel slowly chipped away at that, getting the gap down to just under a second at one stage to set up a grandstand finish.

But Bottas, who asked for “less talking” on the team radio in the closing laps, kept his composure to fend off Vettel and take his first victory in his 81st Formula 1 start.

Hamilton had a frustrating race, making a good start initially but struggling in the second phase of acceleration as he stayed in fourth.

The three-time world champion complained consistently that his car was overheating in the first half of the race and after the pit-stops, he was unable to catch Raikkonen and ended up a distant fourth position.

Max Verstappen was out on his own, too, in fifth, well adrift of the leading quartet but comfortably ahead of Sergio Perez.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo retired with an early rear brake problem.

Force India scored points with both cars for the fourth race in succession as Esteban Ocon took seventh behind team-mate Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg was eighth, with Felipe Massa on-course for sixth before he was forced to make a second pit-stop late on because of a slow puncture that dropped him to ninth.

Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.

Williams racer Lance Stroll finished his first race, just missing out on a point in P11 after a first-lap spin.

It was a miserable weekend for McLaren, with Fernando Alonso failing to start the race after stopping his car at the entry to the pits on the formation lap.

Honda suspects the loss of power was down to an ERS issue, but is still investigating.

The other McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne was P14, ahead of the two Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

So not a thrilling Russian Grand Prix, with a lack of overtaking. Valtteri Bottas takes a well deserved race victory and resisting the huge pressure from a four-time champion was impressive.

Russian Grand Prix race results, after 52 laps:

1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1h28m08.743s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    0.617s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    11.000s
4    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    36.320s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m00.416s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m26.788s
7    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m35.004s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m36.188s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
11    Lance Stroll    Williams/Mercedes    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
13    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    Brakes
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    Collision
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Not started
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    Collision

Drivers’ standings:

1    Sebastian Vettel    86
2    Lewis Hamilton    73
3    Valtteri Bottas    63
4    Kimi Raikkonen    49
5    Max Verstappen    35
6    Daniel Ricciardo    22
7    Sergio Perez    22
8    Felipe Massa    18
9    Carlos Sainz    11
10    Esteban Ocon    9
11    Nico Hulkenberg    6
12    Romain Grosjean    4
13    Kevin Magnussen    4
14    Daniil Kvyat    2
15    Pascal Wehrlein    0
16    Lance Stroll    0
17    Antonio Giovinazzi    0
18    Jolyon Palmer    0
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    0
20    Fernando Alonso    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    136
2    Ferrari    135
3    Red Bull-Renault    57
4    Force India-Mercedes    31
5    Williams-Mercedes    18
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    13
7    Haas-Ferrari    8
8    Renault    6
9    Sauber-Ferrari    0
10    McLaren/Honda    0

9 thoughts on “Bottas achieves first victory by holding off Vettel

  1. Russian Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    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.

    After his first-lap moment, Stroll took his first F1 finish in 11th ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, Haas’s Kevin Magnussen who served a five-second penalty for a track limits violation on the first lap, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne who did likewise, and the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

    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.

  2. This was another frustrating race for Fernando Alonso as he was forced out of the Russian Grand Prix on the formation lap. Honda believes an ERS failure stopped the double champion in starting the race. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Honda suspects an Energy Recovery System failure prevented Fernando Alonso’s McLaren from starting Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix.

    Alonso’s nightmare season continued at Sochi as he reported problems with his car over the radio before the start, and then stopped on track before he could even complete the warm-up lap.

    It was Alonso’s fourth retirement in four races and the second time this season a McLaren has failed to take the start of the race, following his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne’s similar experience in Bahrain a fortnight ago.

    “It’s sad but nothing I can do now,” said Alonso.

    “As soon as we started the formation lap we didn’t have the normal power.

    “They asked me to change a few things on the steering wheel to try to recover the ERS, but there was no way and at the end of the lap the car stopped.

    “We couldn’t even start the race this time.

    “I feel bad. We all wanted to be there but these things happen. This is sport.

    “When you are here and you can’t race, what can you do? It’s not in your hands.”

    The full details of the problem will not be known until Honda conducts further analysis.

    “Until the car is back in the garage they won’t have the answer, but it’s a power unit problem,” Alonso added.

    “Let’s hope we can solve them as quickly as possible because we haven’t finished a race this year and we couldn’t even participate in this one, so there’s a few things to improve.”

    Alonso will now shift his focus to Indianapolis, where he is scheduled to make his IndyCar test debut with Andretti Autosport this week.

    “I’ll see if I can find an earlier flight but there doesn’t appear to be, so I’ll watch the race and have an ice cream,” Alonso joked.

  3. Daniel Ricciardo has called on Red Bull to resolve its brake issues after he was forced out in the early stages of the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi.

    Ricciardo suffered a right-rear brake fire just a handful of laps into the race, following on from the brake failure that teammate Max Verstappen suffered straight after a pitstop in the previous race in Bahrain.

    “I looked in my mirror to see where the Force India was and noticed my right-rear brake was on fire,” Ricciardo told NBC. “I reported it and then the team said slow down the car and pit.

    “It completely went in Turn 15 so I nearly went into the barrier there. I just had to put it into the pits.

    “It was early in the race, so I don’t know how much the safety car had to do with it. It was a shame I didn’t get many laps in.”

    When asked if this was a major concern, coming so soon after Verstappen’s issue in Bahrain which forced him to crash out, Ricciardo replied: “Obviously two races in a row, none of us want that, so I guess there’s some things that need to be addressed.

    “They’ll look into it before Barcelona.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  4. Russian Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas admits first Formula 1 win feels “surreal”. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Valtteri Bottas has described his first Formula 1 victory as “surreal” after winning the Russian Grand Prix.

    The 27-year-old took his maiden victory on his 81st start after holding off Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in a tense finish.

    Bottas, who had taken 11 previous podium finishes without a win, described the performance of one of his best races.

    “I felt good, but it’s a little bit surreal the first win and hopefully the first of many,” said Bottas. “It was definitely one of my best races ever, so it’s a good feeling and I am happy.”

    Bottas admitted that the lock-up he suffered during the second stint at Turn 13, briefly running off the track, hurt is pace in the closing stages as Vettel cut his advantage.

    But despite the extreme pressure in the closing stages and the need to lap backmarkers, he insists the pressure was not too bad.

    “It was OK, the main thing was the lapped cars, trying to get past those,” said Bottas when asked about the pressure.

    “With these new cars, we lose more downforce when two seconds, three seconds behind, so it was tricky to get close and pass them without losing time.

    “I was not happy on a few occasions and I had one lock-up with 10-15 laps to go, which hurt the pace a bit, but other than that it was OK.

    “I did ask for radio silence from the pitwall for me to get on it and get focused.”

    Bottas believes he will get a boost in confidence from confirming he has the ability to win grands prix.

    “I always knew I could get good results if everything goes right and I always trust in my ability,” said Bottas. “But it’s nice to get confirmation that the results are possible. It’s good to continue from here.”

    Bottas, who made his F1 debut with Williams in 2013 and spent four seasons racing for the team, says that the long wait to become a winner after his “strange” deal to move to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s retirement was worth it.

    “It took quite a while, more than 80 races for me, but it’s definitely worth the wait,” said Bottas. “This strange opportunity came to me in the winter to join the team and they made it possible, so I want to thank them.”

  5. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel commented that the “amazing” first stint was the key to Valtteri Bottas in winning the race. Motorsport.com provides the details.

    Sebastian Vettel says an “amazing” first stint was key to Valtteri Bottas earning his first Formula 1 victory in the Russian Grand Prix.

    Bottas started third in his Mercedes but led into Turn 2 after getting the jump on pole-man Vettel and the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

    After managing an early safety car, Bottas led comfortably in the opening half of the grand prix, growing his lead to 5.5 seconds at one stage and pitting on lap 27 of 52 with a 2.5s advantage.

    He then withstood a late charge as Vettel rallied with fresher super-softs to win by 0.6s.

    “Our start was probably a match with Valtteri,” said Vettel. “Maybe he gained a bit of momentum, he had a massive tow.

    “I defended the inside but when we approached the braking zone he was in front and able to shut the door on me. That is where he won the race, he then had an amazing first stint – I couldn’t stay with him.

    “It was Valtteri’s race, he drove an incredible race, he had incredible pace. He deserved to win because he drove better than all of us.”

    Vettel got within DRS range of the Mercedes late on but was denied any chance of a last-lap move when he got delayed by Felipe Massa’s Williams.

    Massa move aside on the approach to Turn 4, but Vettel had already had to back off through the flat-out left hand of Turn 3.

    He complained to his team over the radio about Massa, but was calmer when asked about the incident on the podium.

    “I tried everything to catch Valtteri and I thought there might be some opportunity,” said Vettel. “I was sure he [Massa] would lift around Turn 3. But it doesn’t matter.”

  6. This was a challenging race for Lewis Hamilton and the triple champion admitted that this Sochi race was his toughest weekend since Baku in 2016. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton believes he knows why he lacked his usual frontrunning pace in the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, which he likened to his troubled weekend at Baku last year.

    Hamilton finished a frustrated fourth at Sochi, and remains in second place in the F1 world championship behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

    The Briton crossed the finish line over 36 seconds behind teammate and race winner Valtteri Bottas.

    “It’s been a very tough weekend,” admitted Hamilton, who finished in the same position that he qualified.

    “I can’t remember having as difficult a weekend, probably last time was I can remember was probably Baku.

    “Ultimately [I was] not quick enough, could not put the car where I was comfortable, and then in the race it was overheating so I just had to settle for fourth.

    “Once I’d got round the first couple of laps I was basically stuck where I was.”

    When asked if he had an idea what the issues were, Hamilton replied: “Through the race I understood it, yeah. Speed-wise I think I know where it is, I’ll try and fix it for the next one.

    “We’ve had great success here over the years, and I just wish I could have backed it up in terms of points. But I held on, did the best I could with what I had in the end.”

    Hamilton also explained the opening moments of the race, when he became pincered between Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo through Turn 1.

    “I had Kimi right next to me, pushing me to the left, I didn’t even know Daniel was there if I’m really honest,” added Hamilton.

    “Fortunately I didn’t get any damage as far as I’m aware. But definitely [I] was not very quick this weekend.”

  7. Niki Lauda has admitted Valtteri Bottas’s maiden Formula 1 win in the Russian Grand Prix “surprised me a lot”.

    Bottas, who had previously taken 11 podiums in 80 starts, absorbed extreme pressure in the closing stages from Sebastian Vettel to win in only his fourth race with Mercedes at Sochi.

    “It surprised me a lot because it’s his first race victory under these difficult conditions with Vettel in a better combination behind him,” said Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda. “He did a fantastic job.

    “I’ve never seen anyone like him, under this pressure, to win his first grand prix. He can’t do a better grand prix.”

    Lauda said Bottas’s explosive start, where he passed Kimi Raikkonen and then Vettel before Turn 2, “was the key” to victory.

    He added that now that Bottas had won his first race, securing the next one should be an easier feat.

    “To win the first grand prix in a racing driver’s life is always the most difficult – I know from my own experience,” he said.

    “I remember [my first win] very well – [Emerson] Fittipaldi called me, who was the world champion in this day, and he said ‘congratulations, the next ones will come easier’, which is true.

    “I told exactly the same thing to Valtteri just now – the next one will come easy. He has proven he can win.”

    Bottas signed for Mercedes on a one-year deal and though the Finn impressed with victory in his fourth race for the team, Lauda said it was too early to consider an extension.

    “We are talking about this year,” he said. “I want to win this year. I don’t care who will win it. We have had no discussion about next year at all. Valtteri did the perfect job, all that we expected from him.”

    He added: “He is certainly a very good replacement for Nico [Rosberg].”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  8. Renault’s Jolyon Palmer fired shots to Romain Grosjean that he should’ve “used his brain” in the Russian Grand Prix start. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Jolyon Palmer said he had hoped that Romain Grosjean would “use his brain” at the start in Russia, following the double collision that put both men out of the race.

    The Renault and Haas drivers made contact twice at the start, first Grosjean sending Palmer into a spin and then the Briton launching the Frenchman in the air and into the wall.

    They each blamed the other for the initial contact, although following a post-race investigation the FIA decided that neither was predominantly to blame, and thus took no action.

    Palmer was adamant that he had nowhere to go, as the Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein was on his left.

    “Romain was on the inside,” said Palmer. “There was not really a space. I had a car on the outside as well, so I couldn’t give him any space, otherwise I would have hit a Sauber on the outside.

    “I think he was very ambitious to be coming in from the kerb, right on the inside there. He obviously jumped the kerb there, and ended up going into the side of me.

    “I think he was far too ambitious. There’s no gap on the inside there, it’s a very tight corner, we’ve seen many accidents over the years there. If you come in right from the inside, there’s always bunches at the apex, and that’s what happened.

    “There was a car on my outside, if I gave Romain more space, then I hit the Sauber – I think it was Wehrlein. So I had to turn the corner and hope that he uses his brain, but he just committed too hard.”

    Meanwhile, Grosjean was adamant that Palmer had simply turned in on him.

    “There’s not much to say,” the Haas man explained. “I had a great start, a great run into Turn 1, passed Jolyon under braking. Then I was on the inside, he turned, we had contact, he spun his car.

    “He came back and hit me a second time, and that put me in the wall. That was it.”

    Both drivers expressed their frustration at ending their races so early after trying weekends, with Palmer losing a lot of track time and Grosjean struggling with brake issues.

    “I think that’s the case every weekend so far,” said Palmer. “I’m ready to go home, re-set, and come back much stronger in Barcelona”

    “I was full of hope going into the race,” said Grosjean. “Trying to understand what happened in quali and what we could do better, to help the team and to help us grow. A really positive mentality going into the race.”

  9. The Sochi stewards have decided to take no further action over the first-lap incident that eliminated Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Haas’s Romain Grosjean from Sunday’s race in Russia.

    The duo came together whilst negotiating Turn 2, with Grosjean’s car becoming airbourne before hitting the barriers and Palmer’s also sustaining significant damage.

    As the safety car was deployed, the stewards announced that they would investigate the incident after the race, but having considered video evidence and spoken to both drivers, they determined that neither “was wholly or predominantly to blame for the collision.”

    In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Palmer, who also crashed out of qualifying, had pointed the finger of blame squarely at his rival’s door.

    “I had a decent-enough start then heading down to Turn 2 there was a Sauber on my outside then Romain made a very ambitious move over the kerbs on the inside from behind,” the Briton explained.

    “There was no space for me to go because of the Sauber, so maybe Romain wasn’t aware of that, but he kept it in, hit me, then we were both out of the race.”

    For his part, Grosjean indicated that Palmer had closed the door on him going around the right hander.

    “We had a great start and I was on the inside of Palmer under braking,” said the Frenchman.

    “I don’t know why he turned in. I was there and then he turned in. I tried to get as much as I could on the apex, but he just hit me, spun and came back and hit me again. The car was badly damaged and our race was over.”

    Both Palmer and Grosjean have retired from two of the four races this season.

    Source: Formula1.com

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