Bottas Secures Maiden F1 Win

Bottas Formula One Philip Boeckman

Valtteri Bottas won his first Formula One race after 81 attempts this weekend to put the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of the title race and team orders.

Lewis Hamilton finished a distant fourth after a troubled Russian GP for the Briton, who now trails Sebastian Vettel by 13 points in the Drivers' table. 

The race is Sochi was not a particularly exciting one; not a single overtake was completed after the fourth lap, but there is still plenty to take away as we head towards Europe and a crucial part of the season.

Ferrari continued to present themselves as genuine title challengers, though they would've been left frustrated by their P2 and P3 finishes. They showed great pace and balance all weekend to secure their first front row lockout in qualifying since 2008. However, poor starts by both Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen resulted in Bottas taking the lead by the second corner, and that was effectively the race over. 

Vettel couldn't catch Bottas all race long, and with an altered strategy, he couldn't quite find enough grip and pace to usurp the Fin in the dying laps, though he came within a second of him by the final lap.

Hamilton will no doubt be troubled by events at Sochi. By no means has it been a perfect start to the 2017 season for him. He struggled all weekend long to refine his car. From struggling to heat the tyres in practice to lacking pace in the final sector, Hamilton was never truly comfortable in the SilverArrow this weekend. It was in stark contrast to Bottas, who looked adept in his new car as he drove a perfect race to claim his first career win.

Judging by this race, there will be many more. Which raises an interesting question that Mercedes need to answer; who is their title challenger for this season?

At Ferrari, Raikonnen's sub-part start means it is fairly obvious that Vettel will be there sole challenger this year. However, Bottas has been Hamilton's equal so far this year; one win a piece and a pole. If Hamilton is to be the preferred driver, and if team orders are to be introduced to try and propel him to a fourth world title, Bottas will rightly see it as a kick in the teeth. Mercedes lead Ferrari by a solitary point in the Constructors' standings, but they are in danger of being left in the Scuderia's wake if this keeps up. A decision will likely need to be made soon.

Spare a thought for poor Fernando Alonso. Never has such a great driver suffered this much. He didn't even see the lights go out in Sochi this weekend, with his McLaren pulling up just short of the pit lane on the formation lap. His face mid-race, a cutaway to his garage where he gave a sly shake of the head, said it all. McLaren are in crisis right now and it seems like we're watching a once great team circling the drain. The desire and money is still there, but so too are Honda. Eddie Jordan seems convinced that McLaren will switch back to Mercedes engines next year, that would mark an end to three disastrous years for the Woking-outfit. You have to question what's in the water at Sauber HQ following their decision to be supplied by Honda next season. 

 

 

Philip Boeckman

Huge fan of @F1 and Motor Racing in general. I blog about anything and everything from the world of Formula 1