Valtteri Bottas had been waiting over 2,000 days for a victory when he took his breakthrough grand prix win yesterday.
His Russian Grand Prix triumph came 2,044 days since the last time he took the chequered flag in first place. That was in a British Formula Three race at Donington Park in 2011, where he finished ahead of fellow future F1 drivers Felipe Nasr (tenth) and Kevin Magnussen (16th). But Felipe Massa has been waiting even longer – over 3,000 days have passed since his last victory.
It took Bottas 81 grand prix starts to score his first victory. That’s the joint tenth-longest wait, tying him with Eddie Irvine. However it’s 30 races less than his predecessor at Mercedes took to win his first race:
|Driver||Races before first win||First win|
|Mark Webber||130||2009 German Grand Prix|
|Rubens Barrichello||124||2000 German Grand Prix|
|Jarno Trulli||117||2004 Monaco Grand Prix|
|Jenson Button||113||2006 Hungarian Grand Prix|
|Nico Rosberg||111||2012 Chinese Grand Prix|
|Giancarlo Fisichella||110||2003 Brazilian Grand Prix|
|Mika Hakkinen||96||1997 European Grand Prix|
|Thierry Boutsen||95||1989 Canadian Grand Prix|
|Jean Alesi||91||1995 Canadian Grand Prix|
|Eddie Irvine||81||1999 Australian Grand Prix|
|Valtteri Bottas||81||2017 Russian Grand Prix|
Bottas became the 107th different driver to win a race. He is also the fifth Finnish driver to win a race out of the nine who have started races – a remarkable strike rate. Of the other four race-winning Finns only one, Heikki Kovalainen, did not go on to win the world championship. He, of course, was also Lewis Hamilton’s team mate at the time.
It was a close finish: Bottas crossed the line just 0.617 seconds ahead of Vettel. That’s almost the same margin the last first-time winner had over second place: Max Verstappen beat Raikkonen in Spain by 0.616s last year.
This was one of three races in 2016 where the leaders finished closer together than they did yesterday. Nico Rosberg beat Daniel Riccardo in Singapore by 0.488 seconds and Hamilton headed Rosberg by 0.439s in Abu Dhabi as he tried in vain to help someone overtake his team mate.
Mercedes sustained their perfect record of victories in the Russian Grand Prix, having won all four races. However their run of pole positions in this event was broken by Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. He also became the first non-Mercedes driver to lead the Russian Grand Prix, which he did for the first time on lap 27.
We’ve now gone four races without the same team winning two in a row. This hasn’t happened since the middle of 2013, when Mercedes traded victories with Red Bull.
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Vettel and Raikkonen gave further indication of Ferrari’s potential in 2017 by locking out the front row of the grid. This was the team’s first since the 2008 French Grand Prix, 127 races ago. Mercedes had only been beaten to pole position once in each of the previous three seasons.
Mercedes therefore didn’t have a car on the front row for the first time since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Their 30-race run of front row starts is the third-longest of all time, behind the 35 Williams managed from 1992 to 1994. Their 18-race streak of pole positions, also the third-longest of all time, ended too. Hamilton missed out on the podium for the first time in the last eight races.
However Sergio Perez did continue his streak of points finishes which is now up to 14 in a row. Esteban Ocon looked on course to take his fourth tenth place finish in a row when he qualified tenth, but slipped up in the race and finished seventh.
Sergey Sirotkin’s practice appearance for Renault was a disappointment as his car broke down on its second lap during practice. He only managed ten laps when he last drove for them in Brazil as well.
Nor might the crowd have been very pleased with the amount of action they saw. With neither of F1’s official support series on duty at Sochi, spectators saw two hours and nine minutes of racing over three days at the track. The grand prix lasted just under an hour and a half while the two Mitjet 2L support races took 20 minutes.
F1’s new commercial boss Sean Bratches described the weekend as “the first time the Russian Grand Prix has been turned in to a fully-fledged motorsport festival”. It seems these motorsport festivals don’t include much in the way of racing.
Review the year so far in statistics here:
- 2017 F1 championship points
- 2017 F1 season records
- 2017 F1 race data
- 2017 F1 qualifying data
- 2017 F1 retirements and penalties
- 2017 F1 strategy and pit stops
Have you spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Russian Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.