Published: Tue, May 09, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Hamilton could become rival - Bottas

Hamilton could become rival - Bottas

However, Bottas was able to fend off the Ferrari to seal a "surreal" victory.

The 27-year-old took his maiden victory on his 81st start after holding off Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in a tense finish at Sochi.

After reigning supreme for three years, Mercedes faces a scrap. It was a unusual opportunity for me to join this team and they (Mercedes) made it possible, so I would like to thank them and the team, it would have not been possible.

"But, I don't know what happened".

Vettel was left fuming after his hopes of passing Bottas on the last lap were dashed by having to lap the Williams of Felipe Massa. "He was a driver that showed he is at this level in the right way", Massa said. "This is the man of the race today, big congrats to Valtteri". Bottas is in third with 63 points.

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"Right now I need to understand where the speed was this weekend, what went wrong with the set up and then come back fighting for the next race".

By contrast to Bottas' stellar drive on Sunday, teammate Lewis Hamilton had an uncharacteristically messy weekend, having struggled with the handling of his vehicle from the start of Friday practice.

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Hamilton slipped to 13 points behind Vettel in the championship, with Bottas now only 10 adrift of the British three-time champion.

"Took quite a while, huh?", said the Finn over the radio.

With the European season proper starting in Spain next week, and teams promising upgrades and a faster pace of development, the two frontrunners return to their factories with two wins apiece. Vettel, on 86 points, leads Hamilton by 13 but Bottas is only 10 behind his team-mate on 63 and while discussion before Russian Federation centered on whether team orders would be imposed to favour Hamilton, the win has only strengthened Bottas's resolve to pursue the title.

Perez chalked up his 14th successive points finish as Force India closed the gap on Red Bull to 26 points and consolidated fourth place. Also retiring early from the race was Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo, who had to deal with a brake failure.

There was more misery for Britain's Jolyon Palmer, too, after he crashed out of qualifying and then crashed out of the race following a second-corner tangle with Romain Grosjean.

The inaugural race in 2014 was grabbed by Lewis Hamilton, who held the grip on the Russian title next year showing again the best result in winning the Russian GP.

Sadly, it was another day to forget for McLaren, with their lowly grid places translating in to an nearly no-show, with Alonso's auto giving up the ghost on the formation lap, although Vandoorne did manage to finish in 14th.

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