Bot­tas holds off Vet­tel to win

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

SOCHI, RUS­SIA — Valt­teri Bot­tas fended off hard-charg­ing Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and out­shone Lewis Hamil­ton to claim his first For­mula One win on Sun­day in the Rus­sian Grand Prix.

As Mercedes re­sponded to Fer­rari’s strong early-sea­son pace, it was Bot­tas, of­ten viewed as the No. 2 driver of the team, who de­liv­ered a calm, pre­cise win when his more il­lus­tri­ous team­mate Hamil­ton strug­gled in the Sochi heat.

Bot­tas started third but beat sec­ond­placed Kimi Raikko­nen off the start and slip­streamed past Vet­tel’s Fer­rari to lead at the end of the first straight.

The Finn looked on course for a straight­for­ward win un­til a rare slip saw him dam­age a tire. That helped Vet­tel to close in, but Bot­tas held on to cross the line 0.6 sec­onds ahead of the Fer­rari. Raikko­nen took third, 10.3 sec­onds fur­ther back.

“Took quite a while, more than 80 races,” said Bot­tas, who had his de­but with Wil­liams in 2013. “Worth the wait.”

The 27-year-old Finn joined Mercedes af­ter last year’s cham­pion, Nico Ros­berg, sur­pris­ingly an­nounced his re­tire­ment.

“There was this strange op­por­tu­nity that hap­pened in the win­ter that made this pos­si­ble,” Bot­tas said. “You never know in life what’s go­ing to hap­pen and it was a great op­por­tu­nity.”

MARK THOMP­SON, GETTY IM­AGES

Valt­teri Bot­tas leads the field into turn 2 at the start of the For­mula One Grand Prix of Rus­sia on Sun­day. Later, he de­liv­ered a calm, pre­cise win — his first For­mula One vic­tory.

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