- Sochi: Valtteri Bottas sets the DHL Fastest Lap for the fifth time in the current campaign
- The Mercedes man also clocks a new lap record at the Sochi Autodrom.
- Bottas takes over as sole leader in the DHL Fastest Lap Award
Valtteri Bottas sets DHL Fastest Lap in Sochi
Valtteri Bottas was the tragic hero of the Russian GP in Sochi. The Mercedes driver started from pole position and successfully defended the lead against his team mate Lewis Hamilton for the whole of the first stint. After the pit stops, Bottas continued to lead the field, but on Lap 25, Mercedes issued a team order that Hamilton should be allowed to overtake. Bottas was then cast in the role of buffer to third-placed Sebastian Vettel.
"It's been a tough day. We got a good result for us as a team with maximum points, but for me personally it was a difficult race. Although I already understand the situation. If you put yourself in the team leader's shoes, for them it doesn't matter if it is me or Lewis winning, as long as we are 1-2 we get the maximum points. For the end of the year, it's only Lewis fighting for the Championship, I am not. So, for the team, it is always better that Lewis wins - that's how it goes. It is not ideal for me as an athlete and a person, but that is a fact. We are playing as a team and I am prepared to play as a team", Bottas said.
Hamilton added: "Valtteri was an incredible gentleman today. Honestly, it's the strangest day I can remember having in the sport in my career. I remember, we have crossed this situation and discussion before. It's always felt super uncomfortable, I was like 'Look, I want to win the right way', that's always how it is for me. I would say 'Look, as racing drivers we exist to win, and if you tell us we can't win, it's like you are taking our air away, our life away'. It's that deep. I would never wish it upon anyone else and would never ask for it, ever. I made sure when we were in a meeting before, I was like 'Just so you know, I've never gone to Toto and those guys, this is not how I want to win'. Obviously, the team took the decision when they saw that my tyres were blistered and Vettel was charging from behind. We have to really embrace the moment still, but it's definitely a victory on my list of wins that I am least proud of."
Just how strong Bottas was this afternoon on the Russian Black Sea coast was shown on the 50th lap, not long before the checkered flag, when the Finn posted a time of 1:35.861 minutes to not only claim the DHL Fastest Lap on the day but also set a new record for the Sochi Autodrom.
And here’s a curious statistic: Hamilton (1:35.916) and Vettel (1:35.990) also set their personal best times on the 50th lap of the 5.8km track. The fourth-fastest lap of the race went to Max Verstappen who had to start from the rear of the grid after a change of engines but then finished fifth after an impressive charge through the field.
Fastest laps: FORMULA 1 2018 VTB RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:35.861 - on lap 50
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:35.916 - on lap 50
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:35.990 - on lap 50
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:36.283 - on lap 45
- Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:36.345 - on lap 41
- Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 1:36.611 - on lap 47
- Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) 1:37.931 - on lap 39
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 1:38.015 - on lap 52
- Charles Leclerc (Sauber) 1:38.107 - on lap 52
- Romain Grosjean (Haas) 1:38.244 - on lap 46
History: Fastest Laps at the FORMULA 1 RUSIAN GRAND PRIX
With his DHL Fastest Lap of 01:35.861 minutes, Valtteri Bottas trimmed almost a full second off the previous lap record at the Sochi Autodrom. Last year, Kimi Raikkonen got around in a time of 01:36.844 minutes.
But that was not the full extent of Bottas’s achievement this weekend, as he also set a new track record in qualifying. The Mercedes man raced to pole position in 01:31.387 minutes – the fastest lap time ever recorded in Sochi.
Bottas takes over as sole leader in the DHL Fastest Lap Award
Valtteri Bottas no longer has to share the lead in the DHL Fastest Lap Award. The Mercedes driver has five DHL Fastest Laps to his credit this season, while Daniel Ricciardo in second place has four. In joint third place are Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton on two DHL Fastest Laps. Kimi Räikkönen, Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen each have one.