Venue: Sochi Autodrom
We maintained a 100 per cent record with our 2017 Formula 1 betting tips after siding with Sebastian Vettel in the Bahrain Grand Prix preview and are now going for a value punt on Valtteri Bottas at 7/1 for Russia.
The Mercedes driver made much more of an impact last time out, getting the better of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying to claim pole position, before finishing third behind Vettel and the Brit on race day.
Bottas will also be buoyed by some fond memories of his past efforts in Sochi when employed by Williams, having secured a place on the podium here in 2014 and finishing a fine fourth 12 months ago.
Bottas can be backed at 7/1 in the early Russian Grand Prix odds, with Hamilton 11/10 and Vettel 6/5.
Team orders could make things tricky for us, as Bottas was instructed to move aside and make way for Hamilton at one point in Bahrain, a move which had the Finn moaning: “It is the worst thing you can hear as a driver.”
However, Hamilton did look genuinely quicker at the time, so it is hopefully more a case of Bottas just needing to up his game slightly rather than having to settle for playing second fiddle from hereon in whatever the circumstances.
How the Bahrain Grand Prix finished:
1 Vettel (Ferrari), 2 Hamilton (Mercedes), 3 Bottas (Mercedes), 4 Raikkonen (Ferrari), 5 Ricciardo (Red Bull), 6 Massa (Williams), 7 Perez (Force India), 8 Grosjean (Haas), 9 Hulkenberg (Renault), 10 Ocon (Force India), 11 Wehrlein (Sauber), 12 Kvyat (Toro Rosso), 13 Palmer (Renault), DNF Alonso (McLaren), Ericsson (Sauber), Sainz (Toro Rosso), Stroll (Williams), Verstappen (Red Bull), Magnussen (Haas), Vandoorne (McLaren).
After doing so well to claim pole, Bottas was then instantly hampered when a problem with the Mercedes power generator on the grid left him with too much air in his tyres during his first stint.
Having to work so hard to then stay ahead of Hamilton and Vettel may have had a knock-on effect throughout the later part of the race.
“Sebastian and Lewis were putting quite a lot of pressure on and I couldn’t control the race,” reported Bottas.
“I had to try and build a gap but there was no grip to build it. Then I had to really take everything out of the tyres and the tyre life was shorter.”
Given a little more luck in running at the Russian Grand Prix, we reckon Bottas can make a huge statement and show he is very much there to stay at the elite level – not just keeping the Mercedes No 2 seat warm for the next big thing!
Past Russian Grand Prix results
2016 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen
2015 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez
2014 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas