Valtteri Bottas admits his confidence has been boosted by a victory coming his way after taking his second win of the season at the Russian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was on pole position by over 0.6s compared to Bottas in Sochi, but the Finn had a tire advantage and felt he started the race in a good position. After overtaking Max Verstappen off the line, Bottas shadowed Hamilton until the leader had to pit, with a 10-second time penalty taking his teammate out of contention and allowing Bottas a clear run to secure his first win since the season-opening race in Austria.
“It’s been definitely a while and it has been so close many times, and I feel my race pace, especially this season, has been better than in any season before,” Bottas said. “I can’t say it has been frustrating, but it has been a bit annoying that it has been close here and there.
“It has definitely gone my way today — as I’ve been saying, it can’t go on against you forever, so it’s definitely satisfying, the win today. I felt it was well earned but obviously I consider myself lucky as well, with Lewis’ penalty, but otherwise it was a strong race. I really feel it can give me a good confidence boost, good momentum for the next race.”
Bottas nearly took the lead into Turn 2 but says he was slightly less aggressive in the knowledge that on the medium tire he would have the chance to run much longer than Hamilton on softs.
“The start was good but I think Lewis had a good start as well. Obviously, I had the tow, went on the outside and braked perhaps slightly too late, got in too deep into Turn 2 and Lewis maintained the lead. But then I was just trying to be there, because I knew that with the medium tire I would have the advantage once Lewis would have to stop.
“Once I was in clean air, it really felt pretty good; the pace was strong. The same with the hard tire, I could really control the race. I was actually pretty happy there were no red flags or safety cars this time around, towards the end of the race.”
While acknowledging Hamilton’s penalty, Bottas believes he was in good shape to win in Russia regardless of his teammate’s pre-race practice start infringements.
“Going into today I knew there was going be opportunities. I knew one of the best ones would be the race start, but I knew that even if I couldn’t make it there, it’s not over. Because, obviously, with the medium tire it’s quite an advantage in race time and in terms of strategy. So, yes, of course, I believe I could do it, but who knows? He got the penalty and that’s it.”