Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport finished the Russian Grand Prix with both drivers on the podium, Valtteri Bottas taking the victory while team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished in third place, recovering from two five-second time penalties he received due to a violation of the procedures used for practice starts.
Bottas said that while the start of his race was made difficult due to an insect on his visor which obscured his vision, he knew that by starting on the medium compound tyre he would have opportunities to make up time later on in the race.
“What a feeling! It’s been a little while since my last win, but I knew there would be opportunities heading into the race and luckily things went my way this time.
“It was a bit tricky at the start because an insect hit my visor just as I was entering the braking zone, which meant I couldn’t really see where to brake and so I went deep. But I knew it was going to be a long race and with the Medium tyre, there would be chances later on.”
He went on to say that once he was running in clean air, he found that he had good pace, which made it easy to stay out in front, adding that his focus is now to continue this form for the rest of the season.
“Lewis then had his penalty, and once I was in clean air, the pace was really strong, and I was able to control everything without any real concerns. Now I need to keep this momentum up. There are quite a few races to go and you just never know, so I’ll keep pushing, I won’t give up and we’ll see how it turns out in the end.”
“It was about trying to recover as much as possible” – Hamilton
Despite having a strong race and finishing on the podium, Hamilton said he felt it hadn’t been a great day for him, and he and the team needed to spend time working out the reasons for his penalties. Nonetheless, he was still positive, aware that his race could have been worse than it was.
“Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to all the fans who came out this weekend, I hope you enjoyed the race. It wasn’t a great day for me, but it is what it is. We need to go through everything and understand exactly what went on to get those two penalties. That obviously dropped me back and the first stint on the Soft was also challenging, as I was trying to go as far as I could on that tyre,” he said.
“I think I did pretty well on the Soft and from then, it was about trying to recover as much as possible. It was just one of those days, but I’m grateful that I still managed to get a podium, bag some points and didn’t lose as much as I could have done. Congratulations to Valtteri on the win, and I’ll take the points and move forward.”
“We’re very satisfied” – Wolff
Team principal Toto Wolff has said the team can be very pleased with their result, noting they have won every race at the circuit since it became a feature on the calendar in 2014.
“We’ve held onto our 100% winning record in Sochi and a one-three finish is a great result for the team, so we’re very satisfied. On Valtteri’s side, the win was long overdue and he drove a brilliant race. There were no mistakes, he managed the tyres well and controlled it to the very end, cruising across the finish line,” said Wolff
“On Lewis’s side, it was a frustrating race. There is some room for interpretation with the practice start rules, so clearly, we need to analyse why we made the mistake and take the penalties on the chin. Like always, we win and lose together, never pointing the finger but instead trying to investigate what we can do better and how to improve.”
He said they are determined to learn from their mistakes, and are now looking forward to the next race at the Nürburgring.
“Clearly, we’ve had two incidents, here and in Monza, where we have made mistakes, and learning from these will only make us stronger in the long run. Nevertheless, we increased our Championship advantage with a strong result and now look ahead to the Nürburgring.”