Sochi, on the shores of the Black Sea, in Russia, played host to another chapter of the already white-hot battle between Ferrari and Mercedes.
… and it was an historic occasion, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas taking his maiden victory, the Silver Arrows racer becoming the 107th driver to win a Grand Prix, and justifying the team’s faith in signing him.
But it did not come easy, with Ferrari locking out the front of the grid for the first time since France 2008 with Sebastian Vettel on pole.
While McLaren’s Fernando Alonso forced an extra formation lap after he suffered an ERS software fault – leaving him stranded before Turn 18.
At lights out, Bottas got the perfect start – sweeping around the outside of the Ferraris to take the lead into Turn 2, ahead of Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton. Max Verstappen moved up two spots to fifth.
Behind them, Haas’ Romain Grosjean tagged Renault’s Jolyon Palmer – sending them both into the barrier, which brought out the Safety Car.
The Safety Car came in at the end of Lap 3, and Bottas didn’t waste any time – setting a string of fastest laps, to build up a 3-second gap to Vettel ahead of his stop on Lap 27.
Ferrari kept Vettel out until Lap 34, which was at least four more laps than any of the top-five – a move that was designed to put him up against Bottas at the end of the race.
From there, it was a straight fight as Bottas and Vettel fought through the traffic, Vettel closing the gap to within 2-seconds, after Bottas flat-spotted his front-left tyre with a lock-up into Turn 13.
Vettel got into DRS contention on Lap 50, but Williams’ Felipe Massa was slow in being lapped on the next one, giving Bottas just enough breathing room after an epic 15-lap battle for the lead.
The Finn was elated, finishing just six tenths of a second ahead at the flag.
“It's all a bit surreal, the first win and hopefully the first of many. It was definitely one of my best races ever,” he said.
As broadcast on 02/05/2017.