Valtteri Bottas held his nerve to claim the first victory of his Formula One career as a frustrated Lewis Hamilton finished only fourth at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Bottas led virtually every lap at the Sochi Autodrom after passing pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel at the start before holding off a late charge from the Ferrari driver in the closing stages.
Vettel crossed the line less than one second behind Bottas to extend his lead over Hamilton to 13 points.
Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium places while Hamilton, who has been mysteriously off colour all weekend, ended up a mammoth 36 seconds behind his team-mate.
DRIVER OF THE DAY
Valtteri Bottas put in an inspiring performance to win his maiden F1 race after 82 attempts.
Starting from P3, the Finn overtook the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on the first corner to sail into an early lead that never looked under threat until 10 laps from the end.
With Vettel breathing down his neck, Bottas stayed composed to seal a win for Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen had a majestic weekend in Sochi, finishing on the podium for the first time since last year’s Austrian Grand Prix before clocking the fastest lap of 1:36.844 on lap 49.
Vettel’s 1:37.312 on lap 49 proved the second-fastest, with Bottas’ 1:37.367 on 49 coming in third as he tried to push away from the chasing German.
Lewis Hamilton finished fourth, struggling with intermittent power and over-heating problems that prevented him from challenging the Ferraris for a place on the podium.
The Briton is now 13 points off Vettel in the championship, with Bottas only 10 points behind the four-time world champion.
ONE TO WATCH
It’s only the first time he’s finished a race – crashing out in three other GPs – but Lance Stroll produced a solid display to finish 11th.
The rookie Williams driver had a few blips when he spun exiting turn four on lap 4, and also earned a 5sec time penalty but he redeemed himself to finish just outside the points.