Valtteri Bottas secures maiden F1 win at Russian Grand Prix

Following the Russian Grand Prix, Chris Soulsby looks at Valtteri Bottas' first F1 win of his career for Mercedes and the results from the race.

After Sebastian Vettel secured his second win of 2017 last time out at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the F1 circus returned to Russia for the fourth running of the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom. Practice in Russia was dominated by Ferrari, with the Scuderia topping every session. The pace that Ferrari had continued into qualifying, with Sebastian Vettel securing his first pole position since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix and Kimi Raikkonen getting his first front row start since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix, marking Ferrari’s first front row lockout since the 2008 French Grand Prix. Up until the race, although Ferrari had topped every session so far, the result was far from decided, with Mercedes still being close behind.

Valtteri Bottas secures maiden F1 win at Russian Grand Prix

When the five red lights went out for the Russian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel had a great start, leading into turn one. With the run from the start-finish line to the first braking zone in turn two being over 1 km long however, the tow came into effect, allowing Valtteri Bottas to close in and pass for the lead on the first racing lap after starting in third place.

Following the deployment of the Safety Car following a collision between Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grsojean, Bottas had the perfect restart, extending his lead from Vettel by 1.2 seconds. From then on, Bottas pumped in fastest lap after fastest lap, extending his lead over Vettel and holding a firm grip on first place. After Bottas pitted onto the supersoft tyre, Vettel then look the lead, staying out for a further seven laps before pitting for the only time in the race.

With Vettel on fresher tyres than Bottas, a race for the win was finally shaping up in Russia with the Ferrari driver beginning to close and get into DRS range. With one lap to go and the top two being separated by less than one second, it was now or never for Vettel, however, with lapped traffic playing a role in the outcome in the form of Felipe Massa, Vettel lost time, allowing Bottas to pull away and secure the first win of his Formula 1 career. Vettel crossed the line in second place. Taking the final step of the podium was Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, maintaining third place from the start of the race after being passed by Bottas into the first corner and securing the fastest lap of the race.

Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in fourth place for Mercedes, finishing where he started. Hamilton had a very difficult race, suffering from overheating on his car during the Russian Grand Prix. In other sessions during the weekend, Hamilton also struggled, often making uncharacteristic mistakes when out on track, marking an off weekend for the former champion.

After starting in seventh place, Max Verstappen finished in fifth place for Red Bull Racing, finishing a full minute behind Bottas. Although fifth place is not necessarily a bad result, it simply marks the struggles that Red Bull are having in 2017 after many expected the Milton Keynes-based team to be the ones to beat this season. With an upgrade package coming to the team at the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks, Red Bull will be aiming to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari, who are currently pulling away from the former champions.

The Russian Grand Prix marked a very successful weekend for Force India, with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finishing in sixth and seventh after starting in eighth and ninth, marking their fourth double points finish in four races. This also adds to Perez’s tally of consecutive points finishes, with this race marking his 14th top ten finish in succession. Esteban Ocon also secured his best finish in Formula 1 through seventh, with his previous best result being tenth.

Nico Hulkenberg finished in eighth place for Renault, marking his second consecutive points finish in 2017. Through a very clever strategy, Hulkenberg managed such a result, with Renault not pitting him until lap 40 of the race.

Felipe Massa crossed the line in ninth place after starting in sixth place for Williams. In the race, Massa held onto sixth place, however, with a slow puncture in the closing stages, he was forced to pit, pushing him down to ninth and one lap down.

Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the top ten in tenth place after starting in 14th place following a penalty for his collision with Lance Stroll in Bahrain. This result marked Toro Rosso’s first points finish in Russia after having three previous attempts. In the second car, Daniil Kvyat finished further down the field in 12th place after suffering from engine issues.

Lance Stroll missed out on a points finish is Russia after finishing in 11th place for Williams. This result marks Stroll’s first F1 finish so far in his short career, and after having fought off the demons that plagued him in the first three races of the season, he will be looking to finish inside the top ten within the next few races.

Kevin Magnussen finished in 13th place for Haas F1 after spending the first part of the race running inside the top ten. After being handed a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits, Magnussen then dropped back, being jumped by Kvyat in the pits.

Stoffel Vandoorne finished in 14th place for McLaren, marking his second race finish of 2017. McLaren once again had a difficult race weekend, with Vandoorne pitting in the early stages of the race during the Safety Car period to switch onto the ultrasoft tyres. After this, Vandoorne was handed a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits like Magnussen. Across the garage, Fernando Alonso failed to start the Russian Grand Prix following an ERS issue during the formation lap before the race, marking his first DNS since the 2005 US Grand Prix.

The two Sauber cars were the final finishers, with Marcus Ericsson beating his team mate, Pascal Wehrlein in 15th and 16th place. In the race, both drivers failed to pull off a two stop strategy, which resulted in them finishing multiple laps down.

Three drivers retired from the Russian Grand Prix, with one failing to start.

Daniel Ricciardo was one such driver, retiring on the fifth lap following an issue with his rear brakes. According to Red Bull, the issue was the same one that caused Verstappen to retire from the race in Bahrain, with Ricciardo having a loss in brake fluid pressure. The other two retirees were Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean, who crashed into one another in the second corner of the first lap.

With regard to driver of the day, there is one clear winner and that is Valtteri Bottas after securing his first F1 race win. Bottas executed the perfect race, leading from start to finish and holding off Sebastian Vettel in the final few laps in what was a very tense battle. Through the result, Bottas has proven his worth in the second Mercedes, removing any doubts in his ability that may have surrounded him going into this weekend.

Results from the Russian Grand Prix:

  1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 25 points
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 18 points
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 15 points
  4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 12 points
  5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 10 points
  6. Sergio Perez, Force India, 8 points
  7. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 6 points
  8. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 4 points
  9. Felipe Massa, Williams, 2 points
  10. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1 point
  11. Lance Stroll, Williams, 0 points
  12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 0 points
  13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 0 points
  14. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 0 points
  15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 0 points
  16. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 0 points
  17. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, Ret
  18. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Ret
  19. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, Ret
  20. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, DNS

Drivers Standings after the Russian Grand Prix:

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 86 points
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 73 points
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 63 points
  4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 49 points
  5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 35 points
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 22 points
  7. Sergio Perez, Force India, 22 points
  8. Felipe Massa, Williams, 18 points
  9. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 11 points
  10. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 9 points
  11. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 6 points
  12. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 4 points
  13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 4 points
  14. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 2 points
  15. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 0 points
  16. Lance Stroll, Williams, 0 points
  17. Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber, 0 points
  18. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 0 points
  19. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 0 points
  20. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 0 points
  21. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 0 points

Constructors Standings after Russian Grand Prix:

  1. Mercedes, 136 points
  2. Ferrari, 135 points
  3. Red Bull Racing, 57 points
  4. Force India, 31 points
  5. Williams, 18 points
  6. Toro Rosso, 13 points
  7. Haas F1, 8 points
  8. Renault, 6 points
  9. Sauber, 0 points
  10. McLaren, 0 points

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