Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has secured his maiden victory at the 2017 Russian Grand Prix after grabbing the lead at the start from 3rd place on the grid.
“F*ck me. Quite a while, eh?! 81 races. But worth the wait!” an ecstatic Bottas exclaimed after the race over the radio.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel secured 2nd place, after a tense battle with Bottas in the closing stages of the race. Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen took the final place on the podium.
Before the race even started, there were problems. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso stopped by the pit lane on the formation lap due to hybrid problems on his power unit. This meant that there was a second formation lap. The Spainard has not finished a single race this season so far.
At a race where there is a 67% chance of a Safety Car, we saw one on the very first lap, after Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer collided just after Turn 1, sending both into the wall, and out of the race.
“Basically Palmer just turned into me,” Grosjean spoke.
However, Palmer believes he had no choice, as he got squished by a Sauber on the outside, forcing him into Grosjean. The incident will soon be investigated.
Williams’ Lance Stroll also spun near the start of the race, setting him at a disadvantage. However, the young Canadian finished the race, the first Formula 1 race he has finished.
The next problem hit Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 5, as smoke poured out of his front right brakes. This forced the Australian to pit, and retire from the race. Interestingly, this was the second consecutive right brake problem for Red Bull, after his teammate Max Verstappen suffered problems at the last race in Bahrain.
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton suffered throughout the race from overheating, as he was stuck in hot air behind Raikkonen. “Why is my car overheating, guys?” he asked on Lap 16, as the Brit was stuck unable to properly fight due to the overheating. He had to settle for 4th place, the first time he was not on the podium after finishing the race since China last year.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen received a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, causing complaints from the Dane, as he was in 10th place at the time, just in the points.
“Did you talk to Charlie [Whiting]?“, Magnussen asked. “This cannot be right, it cannot be right.”
Another notable point of the race was Ferrari’s initially questionable tyre strategy. They left Vettel out on his ultra softs after Bottas pitted, putting on supersofts, attempting the overcut on the Finn.
On Lap 33, the call came from the pit lane for Vettel to pit, however soon after they told him to stay out instead. On the next lap the German finally pitted, going on to supersofts, which worked a lot better with the Ferrari, as Vettel began to gain on Bottas.
Although it soon seemed that this reactive strategy would work out, Vettel was unable to catch and overtake Bottas.
Williams’ Felipe Massa suffered a late problem, as the Brazilian suffered from a slow puncture, meaning that he had to pit, sacrificing his 6th place finish for 9th place.