Published: Tue, May 09, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Ricciardo retires from Russian Grand Prix

Ricciardo retires from Russian Grand Prix

Beginning with Russia's first-ever F1 race in October 2014 the trophies of Sochi went to Team Mercedes' drivers only.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland steers his vehicle during the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the "Sochi Autodrom" circuit, in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, April.

Vettel started on pole with Raikkonen alongside in Ferrari's first front-row lockout since 2008.

Lewis Hamilton was frustrated by the performance of his Mercedes at the Russian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton was left puzzling a "very odd weekend" after struggling to fourth place in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix while Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas celebrated his first Formula One victory.

Bottas raced to his maiden pole position in Bahrain last month, but fell behind eventual victor Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and teammate Lewis Hamilton to finish third in the race. "Ferrari are going to be the challenge", Bottas added. Kimi Raikkonen too showcased some neat driving this weekend to finish third.

The victory has thrown him back into contention for the world championship after being bested by Hamilton in the first three races of season.

The 27-year-old Finn joined Mercedes after last year's champion, Nico Rosberg, surprisingly announced his retirement.

"This odd opportunity came over the winter to join this team and I have to thank the team for making this possible", he added after meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin before spraying champagne on the podium.

"But, I don't know what happened".

Although Vettel closed the gap to 0.6 seconds towards the end, Bottas kept his nerve to take the checkered flag and the applause of the watching Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"A big congratulations to Valtteri, he did an exceptional job all weekend - he was quickest".

The three-time champion had struggled throughout the weekend and, frequently complaining on the team radio about his vehicle overheating, could not get close to the podium.

I can fight for the title - Bottas Twenty years ago Finland's most successful F1 driver Mika Hakkinen won his first race for McLaren in Spain.

Massa was sixth for much of the race but had to make a second stop on lap 41 due to a slow puncture.

Asked about what Hamilton had said to him as they met each other in parc ferme, Bottas said: "He congratulated me". His win shows it's not clear-cut who's better suited to take the fight to Ferrari. This is his track, and anyway I'm so happy for him.

Yet Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda, the two Austrians in charge at Mercedes, are both confident that the ugly in-team fighting, which at times marred Mercedes' dominance over the past three years, will not resurface this season. The fifth position belongs to Red Bull's rising star Max Verstappen who has 35 points. Hulkenberg claimed eighth place, and then it was Williams' Felipe Massa in ninth and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz in tenth to claim the final points.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was the most notable retirement, parking his vehicle on lap 6 after the right-rear brakes caught fire.

As the race restarted following two rounds of warm-ups, the second turn after starting grid saw Team Haas' Romain Grosjean and Renault's Jolyon Palmer colliding with each other and eventually leaving the competition.

Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, felt Bottas controlled the race perfectly despite not having the pace advantage in the second half of the race when the switch was made from the Ultrasoft to the Supersoft tyre.

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