How the Russian Grand Prix unfolded in Sochi

Date published: May 3 2017

A slow-burner in Sochi led to a tense, nail-biting finale as Valtteri Bottas held off a rampaging Sebastian Vettel for his first-ever win in Formula 1.

But it was Ferrari who struck with the early blows, topping all three practice sessions before the World Championship leader gave us the thumbs up after landing pole position.

Qualifying brought us a very rare sight, with Ferrari locking out the front row for the first time since the French Grand Prix in 2008.

One very familiar sight, though, was a McLaren breaking down on track. Fernando Alonso could not even complete the formation lap before he ditched the car and went to cool off in the garage.

The drama continued on the first lap, with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Haas’ Romain Grosjean both adding to each other’s frustrating starts to the 2017 season. Both retired on the exit of Turn Two…

After the Safety Car peeled away, the cars were quickly strung out and there was just one registered overtake all afternoon. At least the fans were on hand to provide the spectacle…

Yet our patience was eventually rewarded when Vettel, on fresher tyres after completing a longer first stint, began to hunt down Bottas as tried to nurse his car to a historic win.

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, was well off the pace and cut a frustrated figure all weekend…

Back out in front, Vettel got to within DRS range of Bottas, but the Finn would receive a helping hand from former team-mate Felipe Massa who held up the German on the final lap and lost valuable time as a result.

After clinging on for a memorable victory, an elated Bottas could finally begin to celebrate…

And got a congratulatory hug from his team-mate Hamilton for good measure.