Valtteri Bottas claimed his maiden Formula One victory on Sunday 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.
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen finished fifth for Red Bull ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez and his Force India teammate Esteban Ocon, German Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams.
The result lifted Vettel clear at the top of the drivers championship with 86 points ahead of Hamilton on 73 with Bottas up to third with 63 points. Mercedes lead the constructors title race with 136 points to Ferrari on 135 after four rounds of this year’s championship.
* Agence France-Presse
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