Valtteri Bottas has described his second career Formula 1 victory as his “best weekend yet”, having taken a lights-to-flag win in which he once again resisted a late-race charge from Sebastian Vettel.
The end of the race was similar to his debut victory at the Russian Grand Prix earlier this season, in which the championship leader was catching Bottas in the closing stages of the race. Like in Sochi, he successfully defended his place, and given his starting position for today’s race, suggested this one was even better than the first.
“That champagne tasted good!” he commented. “The first win is obviously special, but this is only my second win, so it’s a great feeling to get it. It’s been my best weekend yet with the pole and the win and I hope we can continue from here.”
There was controversy at the very beginning of the race, as both Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo accused the Finn of a jump start, but the FIA concluded that at 0.201 seconds, Bottas’ launch off the line was right on the cusp of what could be considered a legitimate getaway from the grid.
“The start was absolutely perfect – definitely my best start ever. And you saw how close it was with Sebastian at the end, so today I needed it.”
Immediately after the race, Vettel came up to Bottas to congratulate him, his first comment being “one more lap”. Bottas was magnanimous enough to admit the German was probably right, given the tyre management issues he had been dealing with all race long.
“I got a massive blister on the rear-left in the second stint after just five laps, which made the car tricky to drive. I was losing more and more performance, but it wasn’t my first time having to keep Sebastian behind me.
“I kept my focus and managed to finish the race without any mistakes. It would have been tricky to keep Sebastian behind for much longer, so it was good to see the chequered flag.”
Having taken point out of the four-time world champion for three races in a row, today’s win has now put him within 35 points of Vettel, and said that the ultimate prize was still within his reach.
“I’m still in the title fight and I’m only going to get better. We’re growing all the time.”