Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Bottas beats Vettel for 1st F1 win in Russia

Frederick Owens | 01 May, 2017, 14:28

After an early safety auto period, Bottas led comfortably in the opening half of the grand prix, extending his lead to 5.5 seconds at one stage and pitting on lap 27 of 52 with a 2.5s advantage.

World championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who had started on pole position alongside Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen, extended his advantage with second place after putting Bottas under huge pressure at the finish.

Bottas held on to the lead in a dramatic end to the race.

Verstappen managed to get up to fifth before the safety auto came out and finished in that position as he drove a lonely race, finishing 24 secods adrift of Lewis Hamilton who never had the pace to challenge those ahead after overheating issues impacted his race.

Vettel was the overwhelming favourite to claim his third win from the opening four races after securing his first pole position in almost two years, and with Raikkonen alongside him, Ferrari's first front-row lockout since France in 2008.

For Hamilton, he started well, but was caught up in a Raikkonen-Daniel Ricciardo sandwich and had to settle for fourth in the opening exchanges.

It was a day to forget for Hamilton and yet another one for Fernando Alonso and his red-faced McLaren team.

Since joining Mercedes, Bottas had been struggling to match the knowledge of the auto and the team that Hamilton has built up over four seasons with Mercedes, including two titles.

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Palmer, who crashed out of qualifying on Saturday, was in the wall at turn two, although it looked as though Romain Grosjean was at fault. Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean made contact at Turn 1, with the Renault spinning into the Haas vehicle and taking both out of the race, forcing an early Safety auto.

The safety vehicle was instantly deployed before returning to the pit lane at the end of lap three.

"It took quite a while to win - more than 80 races for me - but it was definitely worth the wait and worth the learning curve". The British driver, who has won two times in Sochi, was having trouble with the soaring temperatures on his Mercedes auto.

"I can't explain it right now, but we will do some work over this week to fully understand it", Hamilton said.

"Why is my vehicle overheating? I am out of the race now".

Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa and Carlos Sainz Jr completed the top 10, the Williams driver slipping back after having to make a second stop due to a slow puncture. He finished 25.3 seconds behind the Finn. But despite ending the race on fresher tyres he was unable to get close enough to Bottas to prevent him from winning the first race of his grand prix career.

But as Bottas mastered the race from the outset - after leaping from third to first in the 220mph drag down to turn two - a perplexed Hamilton could not keep pace with the leading trio.

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