Valtteri Bottas stormed to victory at the Australian Grand Prix as he dominated the race and stretched out a 20-second lead over his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished second.
The win for Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver Bottas was only his fourth in his career and his first win in over a year for the team.
Bottas had the dream start and slipped past Hamilton, who started on pole position, almost as soon as the lights went out and his lead wasn’t threatened as the Finn whizzed around Albert Park.
His first win in Australia means the Finn now leads the drivers’ championship after the season opener and Bottas declared his performance in Melbourne as his best ever.
“This feels so good – I don’t think I’ve ever had a race like this! We could not have asked for a better start to the season – getting maximum points for the team is a perfect result and we couldn’t be happier.
“It’s also an important result for me personally, I’m really pleased with how the race went. The key was the start; I think Lewis may have had a bit of wheel spin, so I was able to take the lead.
“My race pace was really strong, I could pull away and build a gap.”
A new regulation introduced just last month also awards the driver who has the fastest lap with an extra point, providing they finish in the top ten.
Bottas also picked up that accolade too after setting a time of 1:25:580, scoring maximum points for the silver arrows.
“In the end, I managed to get the fastest lap as well, which of course means an extra point this season, so I went for it.
“It can be a little risky with worn tyres, but I had it all under control.”
Bottas found himself under scrutiny last season after failing to win a race, with critics questioning whether he was up to the job with the five time constructors champions.
However, he spent time in Finland working hard in the close season and Bottas says his hard work and a combined team effort paid off this weekend.
“These things don’t just happen – both the team and I have worked hard for this and it seems like the hard work paid off today.
“I’m very, very pleased with today, but it’s only the first race and we have another 20 races to go.”