It had to be the man of the moment….
No race at Sochi has gone down as a classic and the 2017 chapter proved to be no different, despite a nail-biter of a qualifying session that hoodwinked us all into thinking there would be a four-way dice for the victory. What transpired was a turgid affair that was bookended by events that Bottas took control of with nerves of steel.
Off the line, the Finn made a great start to harass the Ferraris and pass Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel to lead. It was a twist on the theme for 2017 so far – instead of Mercedes being the quicker car in qualifying and being hunted down by Vettel on Sunday, Bottas’ Silver Arrow went from prey to predator.
Bottas’ pace in the first stint was impressive and kept the hard-charging Vettel at bay, and the battle raged until the final few laps when the German ramped up the pressure to see if the Mercedes man would crack. But this was Bottas’ race to lose and he knew it – the Finn knew where he was strong in defence on-track to hold firm and take his maiden Formula One victory.
Say what you want about Valtteri Bottas and what he was meant to be at Mercedes this season – some thought he would be an obedient second driver to Hamilton – but he’s proving just how good a competitor he can be; he’s now level with Lewis in terms of poles and wins so far.
The 2017 Russian Grand Prix won’t be remembered for much, but it will mark Valtteri Bottas’ first F1 win – and it could be the start of something big.