Formel 1 – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Großer Preis von Russland 2017. Valtteri Bottas ;
Formula One – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Russian GP 2017. Valtteri Bottas;

Formula One welcomed its 107th Grand Prix winner on Sunday, as Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas clinched his maiden victory at the 2017 Russian Grand Prix. The Finn finished just ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who crucially managed to extend his lead in the driver’s standings over championship rival Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari set the pace on Saturday by locking out the front row of the grid, but a quick getaway from Bottas in third enabled him to leapfrog both Kimi Raikkonen and pole sitter Vettel into Turn 2. Behind them, Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes managed to go side-by-side with Raikkonen and the similarly fast-starting Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, with Hamilton just losing out to Raikkonen by the end of the straight.

Further back, Romain Grosjean’s Haas tangled into the Renault of Jolyon Palmer, who subsequently spun and took out the Frenchman, triggering the safety car. On the restart three laps later, Bottas had the advantage in pace over Vettel on ultrasoft tyres, opening up a gap of 5.3 seconds by lap 21. But the German picked up the pace, cutting down Bottas’ lead to 2.5 seconds when the latter pitted on lap 27.

Formel 1 – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Großer Preis von Russland 2017. ;
Formula One – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Russian GP 2017.;

Hamilton initially applied pressure on Raikkonen, but an overheating issue meant that he had to back off before being able to mount a charge on the other Finn. That left Raikkonen free to challenge his compatriot after he too made his stop on lap 29, closing in to Bottas at a rate of a second a lap.

Meanwhile, Vettel stayed out until lap 34; in the pits, a sticking front left wheel caused a slow stop, and helped Bottas edge Vettel again with a lead of 4.6 seconds. However, the Ferrari showed strong pace on supersoft tyres, and on lap 40 the gap was down to 1.5 seconds. With traffic ahead and the DRS window within reach, Vettel continued to pile on the pressure, and by the last lap he was just seven tenths behind.

However, Bottas used his DRS to effortlessly get past Williams’ Felipe Massa on the main straight, and as Vettel became stuck behind the Brazilian through Turn 3, Bottas was able to romp home with his first career victory in 81 races, finishing just 0.6 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Formel 1 – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Großer Preis von Russland 2017. ;
Formula One – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Russian GP 2017.;

Raikkonen took the final podium spot a further 11 seconds adrift, while Hamilton crossed the finish line in fourth, 36 seconds behind his teammate. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed fifth after slipping past teammate Ricciardo into Turn 2; the latter retired with brake problems after just four laps.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon came home sixth and seventh for Force India, continuing the teams record of having both cars in the points throughout 2017. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa (who dropped from sixth place after a puncture on lap 41) and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.

At the tail end of the order are Williams’ Lance Stroll (who spun on the opening lap), Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (who picked up a five-second penalty for straying over track width limits), McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and the Sauber duo of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

GP RUSSIA F1/2017
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER FERRARI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

It was another tough weekend for Fernando Alonso, whose McLaren could not even complete the formation lap due to yet another Honda power unit failure. This delayed the start and causing the race duration to be shortened by a lap – which, with Bottas having barely hung on to his lead at the end of lap 52, could have had a hand in deciding the outcome of the race.

With his two wins and two second places, Vettel has now opened up a gap of 13 points at the top of the drivers’ championship, with 86 points versus Hamilton’s 73. However, Mercedes has again pipped past Ferrari in the constructors’ standings – with 136 points, it is back in the lead by just a single point.