Finland’s Bottas breaks free from Hamilton’s shadow
March 19 2019 12:10 AM
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Valtteri Bottas has made his feelings clear after winning the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, his first Formula One victory since December 2017.
With world champion Lewis Hamilton second, it was a perfect start to the season for Mercedes while Ferrari were left puzzled by poor performance.
In doing so, Bottas emerged from the shadow of five-time world champion Hamilton to whom he had played second fiddle in the past.
After going the whole of 2018 without a win, Sunday’s win came as a relief to the 29-year-old Finn.
That much emerged when his pent-up frustration came to the fore with a profanity over team radio in his immediate moments of triumph after his engineer had told him the victory made up for last season.
Bottas took the chequered flag for his fourth F1 victory and the first since Abu Dhabi in 2017 following seven second places last season.
Later explaining what had prompted his reaction, Bottas said: “In sport there are always ups and downs, so you can really see the true support easily.
“During the difficult times it’s the other part which is a lot more negative and that is their weakness. I can’t say criticism is unfair because everyone can say what they want but maybe they should look in the mirror and think why they do that.”
It was a surprisingly comfortable win for Bottas after overtaking pole-sitter Hamilton at the start.
It later emerged that Hamilton had to contend with a damaged floor but that took nothing away from his teammate’s triumph.
Ferrari were left to draw their own conclusions but left Melbourne a little nonplussed and with plenty to ponder ahead of the next race,
in Bahrain on March 31.
Sebastian Vettel finished fourth behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen,
with Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc fifth.
It was the first time in his Ferrari career that Vettel — winner of the last two races in Melbourne — had failed to be on the podium at the Australian GP.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said it was unclear why the Italian team was below par over the weekend after its successful pre-season testing in Barcelona.
Vettel won last year’s opener but the Italian team’s lack of pace, after arriving as favourites following a strong showing in pre-season testing, provided a major talking point.
That could prove only a temporary blip, however, with the next race in Bahrain more of an indicator of the Italian team’s true position.




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