Valtteri Bottas showed once more the talent the Finn possesses as he took an impressive third place at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix at Sochi. It was not such a good day for his Williams Martini Racing team-mate Felipe Massa however, with the Brazilian missing out on points after his engine problem in qualifying left him with too much work to do.
Bottas was able to keep relatively close to eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton at the start of the race, but once the rear tyres began to lose some performance, he dropped back and ultimately found himself third when Nico Rosberg passed the Finn after his pit stop. He was happy to finish on the podium for the fifth time in 2014, and move into fourth place in the drivers’ championship.
“We went into the race today with the mentality that we were going to fight Mercedes for the win, but their pace in the race surprised us a bit and in the end we need to be satisfied with third place and another podium,” insisted Bottas. “I was keeping pace with Hamilton at the beginning but in the middle of my first stint the rear tyres started to go away and that allowed him to create a gap.
“In the second stint I didn’t realise Rosberg was quite as close as he was and his move caught me a bit by surprise, but he had more pace at that point anyway as my prime tyres were taking a good ten laps to switch on so he would have caught me regardless. I was closing in the final laps as my tyres were getting better but he had managed to create too big a gap.
“I’m very happy to be in fourth place in the standings and we have some great momentum heading into the US Grand Prix.”
Team-mate Massa’s weekend was compromised by his car issues in qualifying, and although he showed good pace, he was unable to break into the points, finishing eleventh. He felt he could have scored some points had traffic played more in his favour, but moves on now to Austin in three weeks time hoping for a problem-free weekend.
“My strategy today was undermined by traffic and that prevented me from getting in the points,” reflected Massa. “We decided to stop on the first lap and after that I was in clean air and had good pace on the option tyres so made up a good number of positions. I then came up against Perez who had strong straight-line speed so I lost a lot of time behind him.
“After my second stop I soon found myself behind Perez again and I didn’t really have any good opportunities to take a risk and pass him. Of course it’s disappointing to finish 11th when we had a very competitive car, but we are looking strong at this point in the season so we need to focus now on Austin and making sure that the race is problem free.”