ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Valtteri Bottas hailed one of the best races of his Formula One career after ending a drought of more than a year with a dominant performance at the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Mercedes driver, who is leaving for Alfa Romeo at the end of the season and may not have many chances to win races again, said his first victory since September 2020 — and 10th of his career — tasted “very sweet.”
“It’s been a while, it feels good,” he said after winning from pole with fastest lap.
Bottas would normally be expected to play a supporting role to seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton but on Sunday he led from the front of the grid with his team mate starting only 11th after an engine penalty.
Hamilton ended up fifth, losing his championship lead to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who now has a six-point advantage.
Bottas said his win on a rain-affected afternoon was like “night and day” in comparison to last year’s dismal outing in Turkey where he spun and dropped to the back on a slippery track.
“To some people, it could have looked easy, but it’s far from that in these conditions,” he told reporters.
“Everything went smoothly, I’m very glad, and the car really has been good in any condition this weekend.
“I had probably the worst race of my career last year and now one of the best.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said it been an “absolutely dominant drive” by the Finn.
“He had it absolutely under control, not only the pace but also how he managed the tyres. So this was a 10 out of 10 for me,” said the Austrian.
Bottas, who joined Mercedes in 2017 from Williams, said he had been “pretty relaxed” since his move to Alfa as replacement for compatriot Kimi Raikkonen was announced.
The Swiss-based team are currently last-but-one in the standings.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, editing by Pritha Sarkar)