Bottas thanks Mercedes for 'strange opportunity' after Sochi triumph


Valtteri Bottas thanked Mercedes for a "strange opportunity" to replace Nico Rosberg after he claimed the first Formula One win of his career at the Russian Grand Prix.

Bottas moved to Mercedes from Williams after Rosberg retired in the wake of finally beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the world championship last season.

The Finn has endured a testing and mistake-riddled start to his Mercedes tenure, with tyre pressure issues frustrating him two weeks ago in Bahrain, where he had started on pole.

But, having qualified third in Sochi, Bottas swept past the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel at the start and did not relinquish his lead despite late pressure from the German.

And speaking on the podium after the race, Bottas said: "It took quite a while for me [to win his first Grand Prix], more than 80 races, but definitely worth the wait, definitely worth the learning curve.

"This strange opportunity came to me over the winter and I really want to thank the team, without them it wouldn't be possible.

"We've had a tricky beginning of the year, the fight with Ferrari, again it was very close.

"We managed to be on top but we need to keep pushing, keep finishing with both cars one and two.

"Normally starting from the second row is not too bad, I had a good start, if anything slightly better than the guys in front and obviously slipstreaming managed to get the inside for turn one."

Asked about potentially following in the footsteps of Mika Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and Raikkonen and becoming the fourth Finnish world champion, he replied: "For me that is the only goal in my career."