Russia Flashback: Bottas versus Raikkonen

Two years before they’d find themselves on opposite ends of a clash for the constructor’s championship, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas found themselves coming together in a far more literal context in Sochi.

One of the more memorable moments in the brief history of the (modern) Russian GP, Raikkonen had been on a last-lap charge to take the final podium position from Bottas before costing both drivers a spot on the podium with this ham-fisted move.

The subsequent penalty to Raikkonen meant he finished eighth, although it was little consolation to a fuming Bottas, who ended up P12.

Engaging in a war of words that by Finnish standards was downright explosive, Bottas would receive no apology from Raikkonen, who argued the crash had been a racing incident. Even two weeks later in Austin the elder-Finn remained adamant he’d done nothing wrong, suggesting he “would still do it tomorrow again” in the Thursday press conference while Bottas sat behind him.

F1 has a proud history of “Flying Finns” going back to 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, with Mika Hakkinen and Raikkonen having followed in his footsteps. Likewise, Bottas has positioned himself as the heir apparent to that racing legacy – although with his antics in Sochi, Raikkonen had made it clear he wouldn’t be rolling out the red carpet for the then 26-year-old.

Three weeks after Russia their mini-feud would come to a head, with the two going at it again in Mexico. This time however, Bottas had the last laugh, Raikkonen being DNFed on the spot after trying to fight back on a Bottas pass but instead destroying his suspension. Bottas would go on to finish third and take the podium he had been denied in Sochi.

Since then the relationship has returned to a more cordial standing, but now as we head back to Russia, you have to wonder if some part of each man longs for the time when this rivalry was the worst of their problems.

Having struggled to keep up with their more-accomplished teammates in 2017, both drivers will be looking at the Russian Grand prix as a chance to once again grab headlines, hopefully for far more positive reasons.