Bottas achieves a lifetime ambition at the Sochi Grand Prix.

With a stunning backdrop of snow-covered Caucasus mountains and under beautiful clear blue skies, the fourth Grand Prix of the 2017 season took place on Sunday on the site of Russia's Winter Olympics park in Sochi. It has taken Valterri Bottas over 80 races to finally cruise to victory and the Finnish driver completed the 53 laps and 192 miles in world class style finishing ahead of the two Ferrari drivers with Sebastien Vettel in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third. After a steadfast and serenely driven race displaying nerves of steel throughout despite a damaged front tyre, the popular winner Bottas confirmed that it had been "worth the wait". Only his fourth drive for Mercedes, having taken over from Nico Rosberg in the winter after the latter's sudden announcement of retirement from F1 - coming only five days after he had won last year's championship - universally liked Bottas certainly did his team proud.

For the first time since 2008, Ferrari dominated the front row of the race with the four times world champion Vettel qualifying in pole position just edging his teammate Kimi Raikkonen by a tenth of a second after both drivers showed incredibly fast pace in all of the three practise sessions. After an epic qualifying battle between the two rival teams, this left the Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas in third and fourth position on the grid and with everything to prove on the big day. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo managed to hold on to fifth position and sixth went to the Williams driver Felipe Massa. Making up the final ten on the starting grid at Sochi were Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez and Ocon.

Hamilton will not look back too fondly on the Sochi Grand Prix having looked out of sorts and unable to gain balance in either of the qualifying days and then with his bad luck continuing during the race when he experienced tyre temperature issues causing his car to overheat. With his hopes of gaining a podium position looking less and less likely on the day, Hamilton could be heard over the radio questioning his team as to why his Mercedes was having such catastrophic issues and why he could not gain his usual pace. After finishing in fourth place and giving a somewhat lacklustre performance, the Mercedes driver said "It has been a tough weekend. I've never had cooling issues like that and I was out of the race from the get-go. I'm just hopeful that I can pick up the pace at the next race." All credit to Lewis, he was incredibly sporting in defeat and did not waste a single moment in making his way over to his triumphant Mercedes teammate to congratulate him.

Also plagued by bad luck on Sunday was the Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo who was forced to retire on Lap six when his right rear brake caught fire. Crestfallen Fernando Alonso would perhaps argue that Ricciardo was a lucky man for simply having the luxury of being able to start the race as he was yet again unable to take part due to a hybrid problem and had to abort during the formation lap. Marching away from his McLaren, the Spaniard then had an almost shameful if not long and lonely walk in to the pits, no doubt to hastily grab his passport and take the next flight out of Russia away from the prying cameras and on to what will hopefully be a more successful and positive racing experience in testing for this month's Indianapolis. Further drama ensued in the shape of Romain Grosjean driving for Haas and the British Jolyon Palmer in his Renault when the two drivers crashed in to each other in Lap 1. After an enquiry, steward ruled out that either one of them was to blame and no further action was taken.

In a race watched by Russian president Vladimir Putin, Bottas looked to be in control from the very beginning when he masterfully launched his Mercedes off the line and overtook Vettel and Raikkonen leaving both of the Ferrari's for dust as he made a clean getaway with straight-line speed. In fact, the Finnish champion maintained his lead and only made one mistake throughout the entire race when he went too wide on Lap 38 and consequently caused some damage to his right front tyre. Under immense pressure and successfully managing to hold off a determined Vettel who was increasingly closing the gap and eager to claim his third win of the season, Bottas negotiated his way through the traffic in the final chase for victory with the Brazilian driver Felipe Massa doing him him a huge favour by making way for him to pass in the final lap. This move angered a frustrated Vettel who was not bestowed the same generosity as Bottas and when he did finally manage to overtake the Williams car, he was unable to hold back his anger and responded by holding up his middle finger to the Brazilian as he passed coupled with an explosive rant over the radio to his team. Post race, Sebastien Vettel accused Massa of driving with ungainly tactics and blamed him for the delay that cost him precious time and possibly his chance for first place. However, no-one can take away from Valterri Bottas this very special moment and after such a tremendous win I have no doubt that his one year contract with Mercedes is about to be extended. As the great Nicky Lauda commented after the race, "The first win is always the hardest. The next one will come easy."