Friday, 28 July, 2017

Bottas beats Vettel in Russian GP for 1st F1 win

Damon Campbell | 15 May, 2017, 17:57

Team orders weren't a factor among the Mercedes camp at the end of Sunday's Formula One Russian Grand Prix, with teammate Lewis Hamilton almost half a minute back from leader Valtteri Bottas in fourth.

No, it was not a third victory of 2017, but Vettel could take heart from the fact of how much pressure he put Bottas under in the closing stages and that he extended his championship lead over Hamilton to 13 points.

But Bottas got a slight relief when the two hit lapped traffic on that final lap, as Vettel got caught up behind the driver who may never retire, Felipe Massa, and lost a lot of the ground he made up.

"There was this unusual opportunity that happened in the winter that made this possible", Bottas said.

Vettel now has 86 points after the opening four races with triple champion Hamilton, a victor in China, second on 73 and Bottas third with 63.

While the Bottas-Vettel duel was fun it overshadowed the actual lack of track action with virtually no overtaking following the first lap.

Vettel, who had started on pole, hunted Bottas down in the latter part of the race.

"At the end of the day we can talk about my race, but today is Valtteri's day".

Explaining the overheating problems, Hamilton said his power unit was losing performance as a result and meant he couldn't attack Kimi Raikkonen for third place.

"Why is my auto overheating?"

"We are talking about this year", he said.

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Valtteri Bottas has hinted that his good-natured relationship with Lewis Hamilton could come under threat after he slashed the deficit to his Mercedes team-mate in the championship.

Before the race, Bottas had faced questions over whether Mercedes would order him to let Hamilton through in order to boost the British driver's title chances against Vettel.

For Mercedes, the win is a strong response to Ferrari's good early-season pace following its winless 2016.

"For me, once I got around the first couple of laps I was basically stuck where I was".

"I don't care who will win it".

Yet Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, the two Austrians in charge at Mercedes, are both confident that the ugly in-team fighting, which at times marred Mercedes' dominance over the past three years, will not resurface this season.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin looking on, Red Bull driver Verstappen claimed fifth, ahead of the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

The safety auto was then deployed after a collision between Renault's Jolyon Palmer and Haas's Romain Grosjean put both out, and the race settled down into a procession before the nail-biting finale.

Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault, with Massa ninth for Williams and Spaniard Carlos Sainz taking the final point for Toro Rosso.

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