When you really earn your spurs as a Grand Prix winner, you don’t do it with much greater credibility than when you soak up the intense challenge of a four-time world champion. Or when you leave a three-time world champion trailing 36.3s in your wake.
But that is exactly what Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas did in Sochi Autodrom this afternoon, as he resisted massive pressure from points leader Sebastian Vettel in the final 12 laps, and finished more than half a minute head of team-mate Lewis Hamilton whose car was troubled by intermittent overheating.
What began as a slow-burn race, became a cliff-hanging humdinger in the second half, and one of the best of what is already turning into a classic season as Bottas joined fellow countrymen Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen in the elite winners’ club in tremendous style.
There was drama even before the start…