Bottas wins in Russia for his first F1 victory

Sebastian Vettel was quick to praise Russian Grand Prix victor Valtteri Bottas on his first grand prix success, with the Ferrari driver believing his chance to win in Sochi was lost at the start.

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 victor after his "strange" deal to move to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg's retirement was worth it. The duo delivered an enthralling race after Bottas took the lead on the first lap.In a spectacular opening lap, Mercedes pilot Valtteri Bottas got off to the flawless start to take an immediate lead.

Bottas starting from third immediately pulled alongside Raikkonen before using the tow off Vettel's Ferrari to take the lead on the 220mph run down to turn two.

Bottas had to hold off a late charge from Sebastian Vettel, who set up a thrilling final four laps by closing up to within DRS range of the Finn. "It was definitely one of my best races ever so it's a good feeling and I am happy".

"I had to ask for a bit more radio silence from the guys on the pit wall", he said, "just for me to get on it and focus for it, and to feel a bit more like home". "This unusual opportunity came to me in the winter to join the team and they made it possible, so I want to thank them".

Vettel was the overwhelming favourite to claim his third win from the opening four races after securing his first pole position in almost two years, and with Raikkonen alongside him, Ferrari's first front-row lockout since France in 2008.

Valtteri Bottas repaid the faith of Mercedes by winning on only his fourth start with the team in Russian Federation, having outpaced team mate Lewis Hamilton all weekend. Vettel was left to settle for P2, but extended his lead in the drivers' championship in the process to 13 points. Massa also made life hard for Vettel behind, allowing Bottas to move clear once again.

"At the end of the day we can talk about my race, but today is Valtteri's day".

Fernando Alonso's struggles with McLaren-Honda hit a new low just before the race started when he suffered a power unit failure on the formation lap, forcing him to abandon his vehicle at pit entry. Dutch teenager Max Verstappen finished fifth for Red Bull ahead of Sergio Perez and his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and Felipe Massa of Williams.

"It is not important to think about the championship because I need to understand where the speed was this weekend, where I went wrong with the set-up, and then come back fighting for the next race". It meant the two-time champion has yet to finish a race in four attempts this season.

  • Julie Sanders