Bottas holds off Vettel to win
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.”
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.