Usually a man of few words, Kimi Raikkonen has praised Valtteri Bottas on his success in Sochi, the Finnish Mercedes driver was able to beat both Ferraris and his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The race itself wasn’t a classic, but Bottas was kept honest by the pursuing Sebastian Vettel in the battle for the lead. The winning margin of 0.6s highlights the pressure that the Silver Arrows driver would have been under as Vettel closed in on the final stint.
Vettel was gracious in defeat, and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen was also impressed by Bottas’ performance. He said,
“I’m happy for Valtteri. People always think that we have something against each other because we have come close to each other and crashed into each other a few times but no, I’m very happy for him to win.
It doesn’t mean that I’m not happy if Seb wins. It’s good for him and things will turn out to be for sure good for him. It’s going to be close between both of the Ferraris and both of the Mercedes drivers this year, so it will be exciting — but unfortunately a lot of times it will depend on what happens on the first lap. That’s how it’s going to play out. Hopefully it goes better. I’m more happy this weekend but obviously not happy to be third, but this is how it goes sometimes.”
– Kimi Raikkonen
Raikkonen has been gradually finishing higher up the order in 2017, with his first podium of the year arriving in Sochi with a solid 3rd. It’s also worth noting that the Finnish Ferrari driver really stepped up in qualifying and was less that a tenth away from clinching his first pole position since 2008.
If the levels of difference between Ferrari and Mercedes continue, Raikkonen can keep up the form he showed in Sochi and Hamilton can put that weekend behind him, we could have a serious four-way fight for the title this season. Sochi shook up the idea that the two leading teams can be firm in selecting a number one driver. Whilst Vettel was again ahead of Raikkonen, the advantage was much smaller than the other races so far this season.