Valtteri Bottas sends message to critics after winning Russian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas hopes his victory in Russia will silence the doubters who have taunted him on social media.

Bottas took advantage of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s penalty woes to cross the line first in Sochi.

It marked only the second victory of the season for the unassuming Finn, and his first since he triumphed at the opening round in Austria.

When he crossed the line, Bottas, who trails Hamilton by 44 points in the standings, said: “To my critics and to whom it might concern, f*** you.”

Explaining his radio outburst, Bottas said: “I don’t get people that have the need to criticise, and there have been people telling me that I should not bother, that I should give up. But I will never do that. So I wanted to send my best wishes to them.

“I come to every race weekend confident, I believe I can do it, and that is how I am always going to be.

“I hope I can encourage people not to give up because that is the biggest mistake you can make in your life.”

Bottas started third, and although he managed to leapfrog Red Bull driver Max Verstappen on the opening lap, it is unlikely he would have won without Hamilton’s 10-second penalty.

Hamilton remains in control of the championship but Bottas has not given up hope of preventing the Briton from winning a record-equalling seventh world crown.

He added: “I consider myself lucky with Lewis’ penalty. But otherwise it was a strong race and I feel that it can give me a confidence boost and good momentum for the next races.

“I managed to squeeze a few good points against Lewis and there are still seven rounds to go so you just never know. I’ll keep pushing, won’t give up, and we’ll see how it ends.”