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Valtteri Bottas wins his first Formula One Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton able to claim only fourth, as Sebastian Vettel finishes in second place

Russian president Vladimir Putin hands over the trophy to Valtteri Bottas. Photograph: Reuters

Valtteri Bottas claimed his first Formula One victory, taking the flag at the Russian Grand Prix after a tense final few laps as he was chased down by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished in second.

Kimi Raikkonen took the final podium place with Lewis Hamilton able to claim only fourth, struggling with the temperature and performance of his car in Sochi.

The Finn, had started in third on the grid behind Vettel and Raikkonen but had the lead by turn two and despite a mighty charge by Vettel, who was on fresher rubber at the end, Bottas held his nerve with considerable skill to ensure he finally had his first race win, in his fourth race for Mercedes.

“It took quite a while,” Bottas said. “More than 80 races but worth the wait. Thanks so much to the team and the factory.”

Niki Lauda, Mercedes’s nonexecutive chairman, said: “To defend his position against a strong Ferrari, I can only say thank you very much.”

Vettel remains leader of the drivers’ championship, 13 points ahead of Hamilton, while Bottas has closed to within 10 points of his team-mate in third.

Bottas’s previous best results were two second places, at the British and German Grands Prix in 2014, for Williams. The Finn was third in Australia, sixth in China and third in Bahrain in the opening three meetings of the season.

The victory also maintains the Mercedes stranglehold on Sochi: they remain the only team to have won the race since it was first held in 2014. Bottas’s previous best finish here was third in 2014.

The result was enough for Mercedes to overtake Ferrari in the constructors’ championship by a single point, 136 to 135.

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