The Finnish driver joined the Mercedes team at the start of the year following Nico Rosberg’s retirement, but was outperformed by his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the opening three rounds of the year.
However, on Sunday at the Sochi Autodrom in Russia, it was the Finn’s turn to shine.
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The race was shortened one lap as the field was forced to do an extra formation lap when Fernando Alonso’s McLaren stopped on track.
When the race started, pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel lost the race into the first turn to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas – who started third.
The Safety Car was deployed on Lap 1 after Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean collided in the first turn.
Soon after the race restarted on Lap 4, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo became the fourth retirement of the race after his rear brakes caught fire.
After that, however, the race became quite processional with Bottas pulling away from Vettel who was pulling away from his teammate Kimi Raikkonen who was pulling away from defending champion Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was complaining about overheating for the majority of the race.
The fight up front started to pick up following the round of stops, after Bottas pit on Lap 27 but Vettel pit on Lap 34.
Vettel entered and exited the pits four seconds back of Bottas, but was able to bring the gap down to just one second with 10 laps to go thanks to his fresher tires. Vettel got within DRS range with two laps to go but was not able to find a way by. Bottas was helped when Vettel got held up by the lapped Williams of Felipe Massa on the final lap.
Max Verstappen had an uneventful race in fifth while the Force India teammates finished sixth and seventh following a late stop by Massa for a puncture, which dropped him to ninth behind Nico Hulkenberg. Carlos Sainz rounded out the points after Kevin Magnussen – who was running 10th – had to serve a five-second time penalty during his stop for abusing track limits.
“Amazing. It took quite a while, more than 80 races for me but definitely worth the wait,” said Bottas on the podium. “The strange opportunity came during the winter to drive for this team and they made it work for me today.”