Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “A fantastic first win for Valtteri”


The start of the race saw Valtteri Bottas jump from third to first - Credit: Steve Etherington

Toto Wolff was overjoyed to see Valtteri Bottas take his first Grand Prix victory as the Finn took the chequered flag first at the Sochi Autodrom on Sunday.

Bottas jumped into the lead at the start, jumping ahead of the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, and was never headed despite late pressure coming from Sebastian Vettel, but his victory ensured that the unbroken run of victories for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in Russia continues for a fourth season.

Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, felt Bottas controlled the race perfectly despite not having the pace advantage in the second half of the race when the switch was made from the Ultrasoft to the Supersoft tyre.

“A fantastic first win for Valtteri this afternoon and an amazing day for him,” said Wolff. “He controlled the race perfectly: a great start, then a perfect restart after the Safety Car and a fantastic first stint where he built the gap on the Ultrasoft.

“But then it got tense: we stopped, didn’t quite have the pace on the Supersoft, hit traffic and it needed nerves of steel to handle the pressure in those final laps with a four-time champion closing in.

“But in the joy of Valtteri’s first win, the result was also a reminder that we still have work to do.”

Wolff says the troubles that befell Lewis Hamilton in Russia are reason enough for them to work hard in the gap between this weekend and the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks time in order to see him return to the front of the field.

Hamilton had a tough weekend, qualifying off the front row and not showing competitiveness on race day, finishing 36.320 seconds down on Bottas at the chequered flag.

“Lewis had to manage temperatures from very early on, which meant he couldn’t unlock the potential of the undercut around the stops,” said Wolff. “After that, it was a question of managing the race and collecting the points.

“But it’s clear we didn’t give him the car to do the job this weekend and it is a priority for us to sort this out before Barcelona.”