Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2017

Bottas holds Vettel back to grab first grand prix win

2017 Russian Grand Prix summary

Posted on

| Written by

Valtteri Bottas withstood a late-race charge from Sebastian Vettel to score the first victory of his grand prix career.

The Mercedes driver passed both Ferrari drivers for the lead at the start of the race but had to hold off a flying Vettel in the final laps of the race. The pair crossed the finishing line separated by just six-tenths of a second.

Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Sochi Autodrom, 2017
Russian GP in pictures
Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium while Lewis Hamilton finished a distant fourth, 25 seconds behind his team mate, after losing ground early in the race as his car was overheating.

Max Verstappen finished fifth for Red Bull after team mate Daniel Ricciardo retired early on with brake failure. The Force India pair of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rose to sixth and seventh following a late pit stop for Felipe Massa, who had a puncture. He ended up ninth behind Nico Hulkenberg.

The final point went to Carlos Sainz Jnr. Lance Stroll claimed the first finish of his career with eleventh but missed the points after spinning on the first lap.

Fernando Alonso didn’t even make it that was as his McLaren broke down on the formation lap. Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean also dropped out after colliding at the start.

2017 Russian Grand Prix reaction

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

95 comments on “Bottas holds Vettel back to grab first grand prix win”

  1. He aced the start and never looked back. Vettel would be disappointed I guess.

  2. Was there a single overtake on track after the safety car-period?

    1. Andre Furtado
      30th April 2017, 16:17

      I don’t think there was one track over take after safety car. Not even sure there was an attempt.

      1. Not a single one!!!

      2. I am not sure why it has become fashionable to rate races on number of passes. I agree, good tight racing is awesome, but today’s race was one to remember in my estimation. Vallteri showed this weekend today he is here to win. All race everybody spoke of Ferrari’s dominance in qualification, 3 hundreths is domination.
        This weekend was about proof of life for Vallteri. He passed with flying colors. I got the impression after the race he is going to be a handful going forward. I am not convinced Lewis’s issues were down to overheating as has been stated everywhere, he was just the 4th best out there all weekend.
        So far this season has hit every mark for me. Great racing, real battles. Merc having to respond and hearing the whines from their side is setting us up for a fantastic season. Merc and Ferrari are very close, it is going to come down to whose stronger between the ears.
        3 winners in 4 races, 1 point difference in the Constructors. Amazing new cars, minus fin, and I truly believe the racing is better. Some tracks just don’t lend to the ‘action’ many seem to expect. F1is a pure race, 1st to the finish. Top constructors fighting it out… Period. No artificial bunching of the field. I love hard nosed racing, but F1 is racing at it purest. Pure racing produces spread out fields. That is the nature of the sport. If watching the most awesome cars pulling 6.5 g’s is not enough, you need to quit watching F1.

        Congrats to Vallteri, (and Vettel for such good spirits), I wonder if Bottas has un-clinched enough to remove his fire suit. Those last few laps were spot on under immense pressure. Well Done.

        1. Where did I state that I rate races by the number of passes?
          I just asked the question, because I don’t think I (personally) ever watched an F1-race without a single overtake.

          And I like the thrill of a full throttle-race just as much as the next man, but an overtake or two just gives a grand prix a less processional feel.

          1. FYI…there were 18 over-takes in the race, with the majority in the first lap on the start.

          2. The first lap is generally not counted.

        2. Michael Brown (@)
          30th April 2017, 22:10

          Quality over quantity, I know… but surely there were some overtakes among the cars that survived the opening lap? Maybe there were, but the director was too busy showing the leaders circulating around and giving us closeup of Toto Wolff’s face.

          The last laps were genuinely exciting, like Abu Dhabi 2012. The race winner in both races managed to hold on to the lead, so that doesn’t matter. I don’t believe we even saw close racing aside from Vettel vs Bottas though.

          1. There was 1 overtake this race (after lap1): Wehrlein passed team mate Ericsson on lap 5.

  3. Massa was ridiculous. What was he thinking? He didn’t even allowed Bottas to get pass easily. Even worse for Vettel. What was he thinking? “I am on this fight so I won’t slow down sufficiently to screw the leaders’ battle?”. This was the worst I have seen for a blue flag in a while since Suzuka last year.

    1. I think Magnussen and Kvyat were more of a problem.

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      30th April 2017, 15:03

      He did nothing wrong. There is no rule that you should stop racing and move over right away. He was batteling for a position and he can chose the part of the circuit where he moves over. The smart drivers let them pass on the straight, which is what he did with Bottas. I don’t see how leaders should get special treatment.

      1. @passingisoverrated I see you’re new to Formula One. Straight from the rule book.

        Warns a driver that he is about to be lapped and to let the faster car overtake. Pass three blue flags without complying and the driver risks being penalised. Blue lights are also displayed at the end of the pit lane when the pit exit is open and a car on track is approaching.

        1. @xtwl What @passingisoverrated is saying doesn’t contradict the rules that much – I tend to rather agree with what he’s saying (though I’d certainly change a few words)

          1. @davidnotcoulthard, in fact, by quoting that section of the regulations @xtwl has demonstrated that Massa was in full compliance with the regulations as he did indeed let Vettel past before passing a third blue flag.

            Like yourself, I feel that the core of @passingisoverrated‘s post is correct – Massa is not out there to do a favour to Vettel, Bottas or any other driver, he is out there to score the maximum amount of points for his team.

            Vettel might complain that Massa held him up, but a few laps earlier he gained a large chunk of time when Kvyat happened to hold Bottas up in the final sector – so ultimately the blue flags worked in both directions for him in that race (though predictably he neglects to mention when they work in his favour).

          2. I wanted to stress the following part of @passingisoverrated his comment, which is incorrect. I also highly doubt that Massa only had three blue flags from T12 to T4 of the next lap, definitely not giving Vettel the chance to pass on the mainstraigth.

            He was batteling for a position and he can chose the part of the circuit where he moves over.

          3. @davidnotcoulthard

            “doesn’t contradict the rules THAT MUCH”.

            Oh ok then.

          4. @xtwl I’d say he can choose as in he’s not forced to slow down as soon as he sees the flag, even though the choice is as you’ve stated limited by the fact that he has to let the frontrunner past after 3 flags. Saying that you have to let VET or BOT pass after 3 flags for each of them does not necessarily leave you without a choice at all, unlike what you basically implied applies every time any F1 driver gets a blue flag.

            I don’t entirely agree with @passingisoverrated ‘s explanation, but I didn’t see any wrongdoing by Massa and (unrelatedly) I don’t think the blue flag leaves the lapped-driver-to-be without a choice – at least not always.

            @anon To be fair I think he only talked abut Massa because EJ asked him to anyway (oh, EJ…..)

        2. GtisBetter (@)
          30th April 2017, 15:36

          i know the rule book, don’t worry. 20.6 “As soon as a car is caught by another car which is about to lap it during the race the driver must allow the faster driver past at the first available opportunity. If the driver who has been caught does not allow the faster driver past, waved blue flags will be shown to indicate that he must allow the following driver to overtake.” The “at the first available opportunity” is the important part.

          1. “… at the first available opportunity…” could be at the end of race if you wanted to stretch the rule. I think if Massa was a problem, the stewards would have said something.

    3. Nothing wrong with helping your former teammate getting easier win.

    4. @krichelle he didn’t do anything wrong. Vettel just managed to catch him at the wrong place. Bottas suffered it too with the other backmakers.

      Blue flags doesn’t mean STOP NOW AND LET OTHERS BY! it’s just a reminder that there’s a fast guy about to lap them and they shouldn’t block or interfere. Massa stayed in his line to let Vettel go. Vettel hesitated and half passed him into turn 4. But he had already lost too much time on the long left hander, but what can you do about it? It’s part of the game.

      1. It is simple. Go off the racing line and let them pass. How hard is that to do? Then continue your race. Massa even made Seb a harder job by going on the outside.

        1. Then continue your race.

          AFAIK That’d be the hard part. The really, really hard part. Of the difficulty the driver would really want to avoid lest you wreck your own race (or at least pace, in the short term)

          1. @krichelle I mean something along the lines of this:

            “If he’s two seconds behind and I lift and I lose four seconds it makes the difference to my points,” Gutierrez said after the German GP. “So I have to protect as well my own interests.”

            “I did a few laps in front and then we had a warning from Charlie [Whiting] and I let him by but it cost us 2.6s in one straight line so that was a lot of time lost.

            Not that easy

            http://www.planetf1.com/news/grosjean-calls-for-blue-flag-rethink/

        2. @krichelle it’s easy to do it on a straight. Much harder at other places. Re-watch the race, and you will see other doing exactly the same thing with Bottas. I think he was delayed a lot by Kvyat, because he just didn’t have anywhere to go.

          It’s part of the game.

    5. Vettel..the only driver who always complains of lapped cars and blue flags..last year he cried like crazy..this year is just a start.. remember lapped car will only slow to allow but there is no rule to completely stop..cry baby back again..

      1. Who said STOP?!

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        30th April 2017, 22:03

        Vettel’s in the range that the back marker is affecting his pace for more than three corners so of course he’s complaining.

      3. Lots of other drivers complain about back markers, but FOM chooses to air Vettels radio messages more often.

    6. I agree, why weren’t Williams telling him to get out of the way? 0.8s between the lead and then here comes Massa trundling along and sticking his elbows out. I’m not a Vettel fan but that was classless.

  4. It must really anger Putin that a Finn won his race.

    1. Either way, if nationalistic vibes are in the way, both Bottas and Vettel aren’t really his choice too especially if you consult the history books

      1. @goondu The Germans (sort of) helped the Bolsheviks into power and it was as the USSR that Russia became quite influential so….maybe why not?

          1. Nothing wrong with releations between Finland and Russia.
            Pretty sure Putin was happy to see a Finn take the Win. ;)

  5. I cannot remember the field so spread out so early in the race, even the restart it was spread out and dull, the most boring dull race l have seen in years

    1. Yup, VET was ridiculous at the restart too: he was ~1.5sec behind BOT!!! Expected him to at least try stage an overtake move.

      1. @corrado-dub I think the entire field was surprised Bottas started going as soon as T15, and that spread out the entire field right away.

        1. Neah! VET kept too much distance between him and BOT even when the SC was still on-track and about to retire to pits. I thought the drivers knew the track (what is the penultimate and last corner before the finish line) and they are told via radio when the SC retires, so it was really weird to see VET so much behind BOT when everybody knew there’s just 1 corner more and the SC retires. He was a lot more careful at restarts when it was at RBR, always trying to keep as close as possible to the car in front (~0.5sec) and try to overtake at the end of the straight.

  6. This circuit must go. You can not follow on this track. And it is not because of this new rules because the last year was the same.

    1. Agree Gabriel, the race and Palmer need to go?

    2. @naylamp In Russia, Driver in front takes over you.

  7. Sviatoslav (@)
    30th April 2017, 15:10

    25 seconds behind his team mate

    – 36 seconds, no? Look here.

    1. Like Toto said, that gap is not truly representative of Lewis’ pace because he was running in a conservative mode due to his various issues.

  8. I am disappointed in the FIA, they have made the cars much worse by focusing everything on aero. It is totally impossible to follow a car through a corner like in the early 2000’s. F1 won’t last, the real name for this type of sport is formula train. Four races have occurred and between Ferrari and Mercedes, any racing on track between them with overtaking? Without team orders, only done at the starts or in the pits.

    1. I’m pretty sure the early 2000’s was part of the very aero era they tried to remedy in 2009.

      Though of course they had TC and refuelling back then (and grooved tyres, and F1Digital+ :p)

  9. Great work Bottas. I really like the character of the guy, humble and modest yet confident. Reminds me of Mika Hakkinen in many ways.
    His performance was absolutely sublime, he hardly put a wheel wrong..
    I think both Hamilton and Vettel better look over their shoulder. This guy is the real deal and he’s gonna work his ass off.
    By the way, psychological warfare is a wsste of time, he’s just too balanced and down to earth!

    He really impressed me today, could’t happen to a nicer guy. Happy for him!!!!!

    1. Well said.

    2. I love his personality too. Very humble and modest, something you don’t see these days. He is quite calm too. Zero entitlement and divaness. He won his first race today and yet he celebrated humbly. I am a die hard Lewis fan and yet I wish Bottas well this season. It’s nice to see nice guys do well.

    3. Agreed, very happy to see Bottas take his first win, going to be interesting to see him kick on from his maiden victory.

      1. Agreed. Really impressive of VB four races into having a capable car. Plus two poles too. And that lead coming from third on the grid.

  10. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
    30th April 2017, 15:24

    I like (or rather don’t) how the race is actually summed up in the short snippet on the homepage. Well, you could mention the opening crash and that would cover it.

  11. When you realize Stroll has now finished a race, and Alonso hasn’t ._.

  12. Looking at Grosjean’s onboard on Youtube, his front wing was so close to Palmer’s front tyres, and at that point Grosjean was entitled to have space. Palmer didn’t even see him on the side, and squeezed him too hard into the corner, so it looks like the blame is on Palmer 100%.

    1. @subhashs Palmer had nowhere to go either as the Sauber pinched him. Grosjean was a fool thinking it would work in T2 on L1…

      1. Stewards will probably see it as a racing incident then. Have they announced anything yet ?

  13. The saddest thing of the race was realising that with the current deal we have this circuit till 2025.
    Also I think it’s worth to hold our judgement on the Massa incident, till we see a proper onboard footage of it.
    Finally it’s a well deserved win for Bottas, the first double Finnish podium, since 2008 Hungaroring, with Kovaleinen 1st and Raikonnen 3rd.

  14. Raikkonen needs to work on his race starts. Three out of four races he’s lost at least one position on the first lap… In Melbourne it was close with Verstappen into T1, same today with Hamilton.

  15. It wasn’t an exciting race but I am very glad that Bottas won when his teammate could not even get a podium. I guess the two words off Merc’s vocabulary will be “team” and “orders”. I can almost see Hamilton sidling up to Toto saying “You won’t make much of this freak result, right? I am still number one in the team, right?”

    1. He dont have to say that.

    2. @loup-garou Considering Lewis has spoke out on numerous occasions against defacto team-orders, or #1 / #2 status within a team. Indeed he has spoke of quite the opposite; your comments have absolutely no basis, apart from what’s going around in your poisoned imagination.

      Not only has Lewis been nothing but conciliatory toward his team-mate this weekend (and previously), he has been the first to admit he was off the pace for no other reason than he was off the pace.

      I don’t know why I’m choosing to feed this particular troll, but sometimes it’s just too irritating to leave alone…

      1. @psynrg) I don’t think there was anything troll-ish in that comment above. Hamilton didn’t have the pace of Bottas this weekend and that’s a fact. I hope that continues, but does that make me a troll in your eyes?

        1. I am with you. To some people anyone who does not like their precious Hamilton is a troll. Not really worth the bother.

  16. Massa- nothing wrong, no chance for vettel to pass anywhere on the final lap on this track.. Bottas- superb speed this weekend. Ferrari- again showing they can challenge this year. Hamilton-rubbish weekend, new teammate gaining momentum and surpassing him on far lowering contract.

    1. “Hamilton-rubbish weekend, new teammate gaining momentum and surpassing him on far lowering contract.”

      Huh? Who’s ahead of who in the standings? Bottas has one good race out of 4 and you think he’s being surpassed by Bottas? Ok

      1. No doubt Hamilton is up against another teammate who has the potential to beat him in the championship. He’s going to have to up his game if he wants to stay as the #1 in the team. Bottas will continue to improve relative to Hamilton as he develops his relationship with the team. Hamilton’s in for another rough season.

        1. Apart from Heikki, when has Hamilton ever not been paired with a driver who wasn’t able to challenge him?

          This is nothing new for him and he’ll do exactly what he has always done and respond in kind.

          I’m happy for Bottas, but Hamilton is a 3x champion so will always be paid more than Bottas. Is he suggesting Bottas should be paid the same?

  17. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    30th April 2017, 16:10

    The end was fun to watch but since 2007, I’d say that was, in my own opinion, the dullest race so far that I’ve watched. Oh well, they can’t all be amazing, your gonna get one or two like this.

  18. I’m happy for Bottas he’s won it, hopefully he can regain some of the flair he had in 2014 now. Since I feel he’s been hit and miss, but today’s drive was nothing less than Rosberg would have done, or Hamilton had he not been bothered by his occasional gremlins again.

  19. I’m very happy for Bottas and proud to have another Finnish race winner.

    I don’t think he’s quite in the top tier of drivers yet, but he’s shown that he’s able to compete with them on his day. Add that to his great qualifying skill and he’s bound to win races, or perhaps even a championship, as Rosberg showed last season. Not necessarily this year, mind you; I think it’s heading back to Germany. Vettel drove very well again today.

  20. I thought it was a great last 10 or so laps. I highly rate Bottas and not surprised he scored his first win in his 4th race with a top car. He will get stronger throughout the season and can see this having a negative impact on HAM.

  21. Hamilton’s only won 10 of the last 20 Mercedes victories, with 4 of those victories being at the tail-end of 2016 when Rosberg just had to bring the car home to win the championship.

    Seems to be a common thread now in Hamilton’s career where he’s supposed to crush teammates but never eventuates. Don’t forget that Bottas wasn’t much better than a Felipe Massa about 8 years past his prime.

    Was supposed to crush Button but Button outscored him over three seasons. Was supposed to crush Rosberg but Rosberg won a championship against Hamilton in the same equipment.

    Now Bottas is getting the better of Hamilton and we’re only 4 races in. This is a guy that is still figuring out the car. Hamilton is the clear number one driver in that team. The team dudded Bottas on strategy in Bahrain by giving Hamilton the better tyre strategy despite Hamilton being behind Bottas, forced Bottas to move over twice for Hamilton. Yet despite the huge psychological advantage Hamilton enjoys from being team leader he’s getting smoked by Bottas.

    It’s lucky for Hamilton that he has a competitive teammate because without Bottas winning today, Hamilton would have fallen a further 10 points behind Vettel rather than only 6.

    1. Should be Hamilton’s won only 11 of the past 21 Mercedes victories, and that’s against teammates who aren’t highly rated as greats of the sport. Bottas wasn’t much better than an ageing Massa and Rosberg was Rosberg.

      My point still stands. Hamilton’s basically split the last 21 Mercedes wins with his teammates despite it being Hamilton’s team. Plus like I wrote, 4 of those wins came at the end of 2016 when Rosberg was merely trying to bring the car home in one piece because that’s all he had to do to win the championship.

      I’m sure people would have their knives out for Vettel and questioning his greatness if he was splitting his wins with Raikkonen.

      1. So this about Vettel and not Hamilton? Ok I understand now.

      2. To be fair a good number of his non-wins were him merely trying to bring the car home after winning the championship

        1. So you’re trying to tell everyone, that in those last 4 races, Rosberg took the risk of just trying to finish 2nd?

        2. @davidnotcoulthard Those don’t count.

    2. ” Yet despite the huge psychological advantage Hamilton enjoys from being team leader he’s getting smoked by Bottas.”

      So Bottas wins one race, still trails Lewis on the standings and that’s your conclusion, he’s getting smoked?

      I can only imagine what you would’ve wrote had Bottas won all 4 races and lead Hamilton in the standings.

      1. Bottas has come into Hamilton’s team and in the space of a few months is at the very least matching Hamilton.

        Bottas came in as a patsy for Hamilton because the last few seasons showed he cannot get along with a competitive teammate.

        All Bottas needs to do now is throw his cap at Hamilton and he’ll take the championship.

        1. Lol ‘throw his cap’…

      2. Kgn11 So Bottas wins one race, still trails Lewis on the standings and that’s your conclusion, he’s getting smoked?

        I agree that comment was an exaggeration. But even in the past 3 weekends Bottas had shown brief glimpses of his talent and considering that this is a new car with a new spec, he has done very well as today’s win showed. IMO Rosberg was a talented driver but lacked the push and confidence to continually challenge Hamilton during their partnership. I personally believe that he did not try hard enough to win any of the last 4 races in 2016, knowing that coming second was enough. I did not like that attitude.

        I genuinely believe that Bottas is a much better driver than Rosberg and will pose a serious challenge to Hamilton. How the latter and especially the Merc team cope with that in the face of the challenge from Vettel & Ferrari remains to be seen. While I am sure that Ferrari will not hesitate to impose team orders if necessary, the relative performances of their two drivers this far suggests that it will seldom be necessary, if ever. The problem might, and I think that it WILL, be is that the same may not be true at the Merc team.

        1. Mercedes’ interest is to win the Constructors’ Title. If backing Bottas makes sense – that is, Bottas goes on to remain faster than Lewis over the next couple races and overhauls Lewis in the points – then Mercedes would be crazy not to back him. This is just the sort of challenge that a good driver needs, and Lewis will sink or swim. Either way, it is a little too soon to say Bottas is ‘smoking’ Lewis – the season is what, four races old?

          1. @rantingmrp – Mercedes’ interest is to win the Constructors’ Title.

            Yes, but that will be Ferrari’s interest even more so. They have always valued the team title at least equal to the WDC and now that old rivals Merc and Ferrari are more or less equally challenging each other, both team bosses will be very highly motivated to win the WCC, despite what they say in public.

            That is where Merc might have an advantage. Of the two Finns, Bottas, still young enough to have a sizeable future, will seize the opportunity with both hands and give his best. Raikkonen on the other hand, might start thinking of retirement for good if the season progresses the way it has done so far for him and get into his journeyman mode.

            IMO, Vettel has a great chance of winning the WDC this year but Merc will remain clear favourites for the WCC.

  22. Ferrari, Seb fan
    30th April 2017, 17:56

    Boooooooooooooring race. Last laps were good. Great race from Bo77as, he could be a factor this year. good from vettel, wished he won (did anyone else see the video of what he showed to Massa?)

    Kimi’s radio message was amazing!

    Engineer:Bottas ahead.
    Kimi:How are we behind Bottas?
    Engineer:He was leading Kimi.
    Kimi:Oh, I thought it was the other way around

    1. Kimi’s radio messages are always interesting. That one made me laugh. I wonder if he listens to music as he drives?

  23. sunny stivala
    30th April 2017, 18:20

    Bottas took his first brilliant victory gifted by FERRARI, It was clear all weekend up to race start that the only thing that could deprive FERRARI of victory was a bad race start- and that’s what happened.
    Also it was great to see Felipe step in and throw out his elbows on behalf his ex-team mate at the end.

  24. What an amazing drive from Bottas considering the issues Hamilton had in the other car… class

  25. Vettel must be really disappointed.. he could have easily won the race. It was his race to lose and he did.. what a shame for all those Ferrari fans(almost the entire audience) hopefully next time.

    1. Nothing more boring and disappointing than obnoxious fans.

  26. What a boring race, and then Massa got right in the way just when something exciting was about to happen. Thanks Massa…..

  27. Horrible race, that track is just awful.
    Never seen such a spread out train of cars

  28. What a dull race

  29. I guess Hamilton was lying on Friday when he said Mercedes wasn’t sandbagging and has NEVER EVER sandbagged.

    Mercedes #2 driver goes on to a fairly easy victory.

    That’s 4/4 races where Mercedes has been the fastest car, yet Lewis only has one win to show for it.

Comments are closed.