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Bottas wins as Hamilton struggles in Russia

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Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas secured his maiden Formula 1 victory after holding off a late charge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the Russian Grand Prix.  Bottas jumped Vettel and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at the start from his third position on the grid and dominated the race until the closing stages, when Vettel used a late pit stop to close up and pressure the Finn.

The four-time champion closed up to within a second and a half of Bottas with 10 laps to go but the Finn responded and kept Vettel at arm’s length for the rest of the race. Bottas’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton capped a difficult weekend with a race to forget and finished only fourth behind Raikkonen.

Hamilton slipped to 13 points behind Vettel in the championship, with Bottas now only 10 adrift of the British three-time champion. But Hamilton had reason to be grateful for Bottas’ accomplished performance – without it, Vettel’s lead would be 20 points and edging towards a clear win.

The race confirmed Ferrari’s position as a match for Mercedes and the see-saw nature of the close competition between the two teams in what is promising to be a very tightly contested title fight.

Ferrari took their first front-row lock-out for nine years on Saturday as Mercedes struggled to get the best out the ultra-soft tyres on a single qualifying lap. Much depended on the start in a race that was going to feature just a single pit stop for the front-runners, and Bottas made a flier.

The Finn made a peach of a getaway, quickly drawing alongside Vettel on the outside on the long run down to the first chicane and out-braking the Ferrari around the outside. From there, Bottas edged away into the distance, building a five-second lead by lap 19. (BBC Sport)

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