MAIDEN WIN FOR BOTTAS
New Mercedes driver finishes ahead of teammate Hamilton and Ferrari’s Vettel
VALTTERI Bottas claimed his maiden Formula One victory yesterday when he resisted intense pressure from championship leader Sebastian Vettel to triumph for Mercedes in a tense Russian Grand Prix.
The Finnish driver, starting from third place on the grid, grabbed the initiative at the start by powering past both Ferraris and into the lead while his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled home fourth.
Four-time champion Vettel finished second ahead of Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen who claimed his first podium finish since last year’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The popular Bottas’s first win was warmly received by his fellow drivers and the paddock, Hamilton hugging him after he had jumped into the arms of his crew and Vettel joining the reception, Russian President Vladimir Putin also present for congratulations and prize giving.
“Worth the wait!” said the unflappable Bottas in typical understated style after coming home just six-tenths of a second ahead of Vettel at the flag.
Bottas became Finland’s fifth Formula One race winner following Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen, who was the last from the Nordic country to triumph, at the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Vettel was seemingly as pleased for Bottas as if he had won himself.
“I tried everything to catch him and I thought there would be an opportunity on the back straight,” the German said.
“I thought I could do it, but I wasn’t sure what Felipe Massa would do and I ended up losing out. It doesn’t matter though. Big congratulations to Valtteri. This is his day.”
Raikkonen said: “I have had a bit of a rough start to the season, but this week has been a step forward, but we still only finished third. So, we’ll keep trying.” AFP
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas takes a corner followed by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in the Russian Grand Prix yesterday.