Valtteri Bottas was delighted to get his maiden Formula One victory in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas driver jumped the two Ferraris off the start, then edged out Sebastian Vettel in a nail-bitting, race-long battle.
It’s all a bit surreal, the first win and hopefully the first of many. It was definitely one of my best races everValtteri Bottas
Brackley team-mate Lewis Hamilton produced a battling drive to finish fourth after struggling with overheating throughout the race.
The result marks the 400th podium finish for Mercedes-Benz Power in Formula One and Bottas said: “It’s going to take a while to sink in, normally I’m not that emotional but hearing the Finnish national anthem was very special for me.
“It’s all a bit surreal, the first win and hopefully the first of many. It was definitely one of my best races ever.
“The pressure from Sebastian [Vettel] wasn’t too bad; the main issue was with the lapped cars, trying to get past those. It was tricky to pass them without losing time. I also had a lockup with about 15 laps to go that hurt the pace, but it was manageable.
“I asked for a bit of radio silence just to get on it and focus. I’m sure this victory will give me lots of confidence going forward. I knew I could do these results, I always trusted my ability, but this result confirms it.”
Lewis Hamilton said: “Valtteri did an exceptional job and he really deserves it. He’s been fast all weekend and he’s done such a good job for the team. For me it was a very tough weekend,I just wasn’t quick enough.
“I’ve never had cooling issues like that before but it meant I was out of the race from the get-go. Ultimately, if I had better pace then I would have been further up, at least I got some good points for the team. I’m just hopeful that I can pick up the pace at the next race.”
Team boss Toto Wolff added: “Valtteri controlled the race perfectly: a great start, then a perfect restart after the Safety Car and a fantastic first stint where he built the gap on the UltraSoft.
“But then it got tense: we didn’t quite have the pace on the super-soft, hit traffic and it needed nerves of steel to handle the pressure in those final laps. But in the joy of Valtteri’s first win, the result was also a reminder that we still have work to do.
“Lewis had to manage temperatures from very early on, which meant he couldn’t unlock the potential of the undercut around the stops. After that, it was a question of managing the race and collecting the points. But it’s clear we didn’t give him the car to do the job this weekend and it is a priority for us to sort this out before Barcelona.”