Monday,21 August, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1343, (4 - 10 May 2017)
Monday,21 August, 2017
Issue 1343, (4 - 10 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

What a Finn-ish!

Valtteri Bottas fights back in Russia while Ferrari keeps winning what is most important, Mohamed Abdel-Razek reports

Bottas wins Russia

All eyes are on the top, precisely where the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes is taking place, igniting the Formula One 2017 season right from the start.

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton reserved all the headlines while they were exchanging wins in the first three Grand Prix of the season. Equal opportunity was something we rarely heard or saw the past couple of seasons between such big teams. But when it comes to teams, it takes more than one driver to secure the constructor’s championship at the end of the season.


sochi

There’s nothing more to say about Kimi Raikkonen than that he is the F1 world champion of 2007 with Ferrari, an experienced driver used to standing on the podium every race he enters. Now he has been pushing to get closer to his teammate Vettel, doing almost everything his team expects of him.

On the other hand Valtteri Bottas, the young Finnish driver who showed great potential last season with Williams to make him the best available replacement, in the eyes of Mercedes team director Toto Wolff, for the retired world champion of 2016 Nico Rosberg.


Bottas

Finishing third in Australia in the first race of the season was a good start for Bottas. “Bottas is the right replacement for Rosberg,” said Niki Lauda, the former Austrian great.

However, in China, things didn’t go too well for Wolff’s pick. After a rookie mistake as the car spun out of Bottas hands, some said the first race was beginner’s luck and that he would not be able to keep up with the standards and pressure of a big team throughout the season. But Bottas had his own way of replying to all the doubting Thomases.

Hitting back hard, Bottas earned his first ever career pole position in Bahrain, snatching it from his teammate Hamilton, leaving him red-faced.


Vettel winning in Bahrain

“The first ever pole position for any driver in F1 is a huge moment,” said Wolff. “He was very down after that [spin] happened and he apologised many times because he lost the team points, but as a matter of fact he has paid it back.”

It was just the start for the Finn who is determined to keep it going. Bottas came to the Russian Grand Prix second in qualifying to keep his nose in front from the start, and with an excellent launch he was able to pass Vettel who started from the first position.

“Bottas pushed hard and closed all the gaps. He was simply the best today,” said Vettel after Bottas managed to dominate in Sochi claiming his first ever career win as well as winning the driver of the day award.

Thus, Bottas has thrown more fuel on the fire in Ferrari’s favour. As for the battle between Vettel and Hamilton, the latter had the worst race in Sochi since the beginning of the season. Hamilton started with unforced mistakes in practice and then qualifying, ending with an overheated car in the race which prevented him from pushing throughout to end up in fourth, behind Raikkonen, Vettel and Bottas.

That widened the gap between Vettel in first place in the driver’s championship and Hamilton who is in second with 13 points. Bottas is third with 14 points while Raikkonen is fourth.


Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen on the podium

Now, and after what was displayed in the Russian Grand Prix, three drivers are clearly on track to win the drivers world championship. No doubt Mercedes and Ferrari are the only teams qualified to race in the constructor’s championship with four top notch drivers who are hungry to collect more points every race.

Who will last longer is the key question for this season. Car reliability, right strategies, a driver’s performances and a sustained strong pace will lead to the F1 world champion at the end of the season. Will Bottas be the one?

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