Valtteri Bottas Wins First Grand Prix In His 82nd Race
When Valtteri Bottas joined Mercedes in the summer many asked if he could hang with the front runners having never won a race before but he hasn't taken long to answer those questions.
Bottas joined the Silver Arrows from Williams at the end of last season after Nico Rosberg's shock decision to retire after winning the world championship.
In 78 races for Williams before joining the constructors champions this year the Finn had never won a race, twice finishing runner up.
Bottas makes an incredible start. PA Images
So far this season the 27 year old had finished third twice and sixth once as he watched teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel swap wins but today in Russia he broke their monopoly.
Bottas out qualified Hamilton on Saturday but was behind both the Ferrari's as Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen secured the first front row lockout for the Scuderia since the 2008 French GP.
But by the end of turn two, the first proper corner on the track, it was Bottas who led the race after a flying start saw him overtake both Ferraris.
Vettel stalks his prey. PA Images
In the next 19 laps it would be pretty plain sailing for Bottas as he created a five second gap to Vettel in second whilst Hamilton couldn't get into a position to chase.
By the time the leader made his pit stop the gap was a mere three seconds and Vettel wouldn't make his stop for another seven laps in order to have fresh tyres for a late push.
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That move looked like it might pay off as the Ferrari got to within a second of his rival in the last few laps and so had the use of DRS.
However the leader managed to get DRS himself as traffic within one second allowed him to use the system and hold off the advancing prancing horse.
To the winner the spoils. PA Images
In the end the gap was just six tenths of a second but it was enough to see Bottas through the chequered flag for the win.
Raikkonen made up the podium with Hamilton just out of the pace all weekend. Force India continued their impressive run of points finishes with Sergio Perez in sixth and Esteban Ocon in seventh.
Dreadful weekend for Palmer. PA Images
Lance Stroll finished a race in F1 for the first time and was agonisingly close to his first points finish in 11th place, just hundredths of a second behind Sainz.
There was more frustration for Fernando Alonso who didn't start the race and Jolyon Palmer whose nightmare weekend ended on the opening lap after a crash with Romain Grosjean.
For Bottas though it was a week where he added his name to the title race!
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