Valtteri Bottas says he will “never give up” after winning the Russian Grand Prix, and hopes he can carry momentum forward into the final races of the Formula 1 season.
Starting third on the grid, it seemed that Bottas had his work cut out for him ahead of the beginning of the race but he managed to get a good start and quickly passed by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, before making a good attempt to overtake his teammate, Lewis Hamilton at Turn two, although the six-time world champion was able to fend him off.
Commenting to Sky F1 after the race, Bottas revealed his first lap move against Hamilton was hampered by something hitting his visor. “Obviously I tried at the start, it was the first opportunity.
“Actually it was a bit compromised because there was a massive bead or something that hit my visor so I couldn’t really see when I should break, so that’s why I went too deep.”
Nevertheless, he maintained his composure and spoke of how he remained positive that he would be able to fight back again.
“I knew the first chance for me would have been at the very start, but I knew that was not game over because I was on the medium tyre I could go much longer on the first stint and once he stopped I could show my pace and my pace was really good.
“I always knew coming to today from practice long runs that my pace was really good and I knew from third and starting a different tyre to Lewis, probably a better race tyre to Lewis, there is going to be opportunity.”
After Hamilton headed to the pits on lap 16 and served a 10 second time penalty, Bottas took the lead and comfortably held on to it for the remainder of the race. Once in clean air, he felt the race was “pretty awesome”. He also took home an extra point for completing the fastest lap of the race.
Bottas has previously admitted to enjoying racing in Sochi, and has already won from starting third on the grid at the track back in 2017.
Following his cruise to victory, Bottas reflected on his recent frustrations and also commented on criticism he has faced. “There’s been a build up of a few disappointing races and obviously giving everything every single week and being this close to winning, but now I’ve finally got it and finally things went my way.
“I feel I’ve earned it. The critics and the people who tell me I should give up and so on, that gives me so much energy and power but I hope they can learn something. I don’t understand why they do it.”
He seemed to be almost relieved when speaking after the race, and it was clear that he felt the win was a long time coming.
Despite acknowledging his struggles so far this season, Bottas appeared determined to make the most of his win in Sochi, and was keen to assert that his Championship hopes are not yet over.
“It means a lot. In sport you need good results and to get that confidence. It can definitely help you keep the momentum and of course that’s what I’ll try to carry with me for the future races.
“It means that the Championship is definitely not over. In this sport you never know. In the end, there’s not much to lose from my side so I’m definitely going to go for it and hope things will keep going my way for a bit.”
The big question is whether the Finnish driver will be able to start showing more consistency with his success. As already noted, Sochi is a track Bottas enjoys racing at which perhaps made it easier for him to achieve a good result today.
The next few races are relative unknowns to the teams in terms of how well the individual cars will perform. It could be that the following circuits end up complementing Bottas’ driving style and lead to more success for the Mercedes driver.
One thing for sure is that Bottas intends to bring a fight to the top of the drivers’ championship table, adding “as I always say, I’ll keep pushing and I won’t give up.”