It's his day - Vettel congratulates Bottas despite Massa frustration

It's his day - Vettel congratulates Bottas despite Massa frustration

Lewis Hamilton has said he is at a loss to explain why he was so far off the pace at the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton struggled to fourth behind the Ferraris of title leader Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen while team-mate Valtteri Bottas took a maiden win. Bottas held on to his lead comfortably at the restart in a race with few overtaking opportunities.

Hamilton is just ten point ahead of Bottas who appears to be improving week-on-week as he gets comfortable in the Brackley-based team.

Before the race, Bottas had faced questions over whether Mercedes would order him to let Hamilton through in order to boost the British driver's title chances against Vettel.

“If he has been in front of me I tell him honestly that he has done a great job and viceversa. If you think you are not able to win you should stay home, but to get confirmation and get a good result, that matters in this world. Bottas had extended his lead over Vettel's Ferrari to 5.3 seconds by lap 21. At some point things might get a bit more tricky and tight. "There might be less talking and more fighting on track".

The 27-year-old Finn joined Mercedes after last year's champion, Nico Rosberg, surprisingly announced his retirement.

Sochi, Russia:Fernando Alonso retired before a crash triggered a red-flagged first lap Safety Car in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix when Frenchman Romain Grosjean collided with Briton Jolyon Palmer.

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The Finn now trails Hamilton by just 10 points, with Vettel leading the standings by 13, after an opening four rounds in which Mercedes and Ferrari have claimed two wins apiece.

For now, Ferrari and Mercedes each has two wins this season.

"Lewis had to manage temperatures from very early on, which meant he couldn't unlock the potential of the undercut around the stops", said Wolff.

"Lewis is a professional and the other one too, so I don't see any problems because he [Bottas] won this race".

"This I know out of my own experience. It is a completely different relationship".

After they clashed twice on track in 2015 - once in Russian Federation and once in Mexico - a perception grew in the paddock that Raikkonen and Bottas do not see eye to eye, but Raikkonen insists that is not the case. There is no extra aggravation which we had a year ago.

Hamilton arrived in Sochi as a two-times victor at the Olympic Park street circuit, a track where only his Mercedes team had won since the first race there in 2014, but he struggled to find his rhythm.

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