Russian Grand Prix: Podium ceremony and interviews

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Transcript and photos from the Russian Grand Prix podium ceremony at Sochi Autodrom, conducted by Eddie Jordan and including: race winner Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), second placed Sebstian Vettel (Ferrari) and third placed (Kimi Raikkonen).

Valtteri, tell us, what does it feel like, your first ever win in grand prix racing?
Valtteri Bottas: Amazing. It took quite a while, more than 80 races for me, but definitely worth the wait, worth the learning curve. This strange opportunity came to me in the winter to join this team and they made it possible today, so I really want to thank to the team, without them it wouldn’t be possible, so feels amazing.

It’s like a fairy tale isn’t it? Four or five months ago you were going to drive with Williams, a particularly good team, but you got the chance to come to this team – a winning, world champion team – and you’re one the top [of the] podium at the moment.
VB: yeah, we’ve had a tricky beginning of the year, you know the fight with Ferrari was again very close. We managed to be on top, but we need to keep pushing, we need to keep finishing with both cars all the time one and two, that’s the plan. But just very, very happy now.

Just going to interject here for a second because we see Toto down there and he of little faith gave you a one-year contract. I’ve got a pen Toto, we need a three-year extension on that minimum with proper money, is that OK? Coming back to you… where’s he gone. [Sebastian], Felipe Massa, tell me about him, what happened on that last lap?
Sebastian Vettel: I obviously tried everything to catch Valtteri and maybe I thought there might be some opportunity on the back straight. I was sure [Felipe] would lift around Turn 3, it’s flat out, and let me be, so I wouldn’t lose much time, but then I think I just wasn’t sure what he was going to do and I ended up losing a bit more than I was hoping for. But it doesn’t matter. This is the man of the race today, big congrats to Valtteri, it’s his first grand prix win, so it’s his day.

Very well said. I have to ask you, your strategy: you ran much deeper into the race on those tyres and it looked like it was paying off.
SV: Not really, we didn’t come out ahead. Yeah, we had fresher tyres in the end. Obviously there was a gap to Kimi behind and we just decided to try and extend as much as possible to hope for maybe Valtteri running into trouble with traffic, us having a clear track. That was the plan. So I think we tried everything, but obviously we lost the race at the start, which was a bit of a shame. I had a good start but…

I was going to ask about that. You were a bit unlucky, both of you, on the front row of the grid but you have the longest run to the first corner but you got out-dragged?
SV: Yeah, that’s basically it. I think our start was basically a match with Valtteri, maybe he gained a bit of momentum in the beginning but then obviously he had a massive tow. I defended the inside but by the time we approached braking he was already in front and able to shut the door on me, so well done, and that’s where he won the race. And then he did a superb first stint, I couldn’t stay with him, he was very, very quick all; race, no mistakes and as I said – man of the race.

Ladies and gentlemen, year on year Kimi has been voted the most popular driver in Formula One and you have your fans here.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I’m very happy that I have here support but whatever country they come from I’m very happy to have the. Unfortunately today we could only give third place but we try next time more so.

We have to talk about the podium and the lock-out on the front row. We weren’t sure how it would wind up and today both of you are on the podium. It shows a great sign for the future of this season and the championship and the excitement of it?
KR: Yeah, I think I have had a little bit of a rough start to the season. Far from ideal but this weekend for sure has been a step forward. We have been more happy with how things have been running but we still only finished third. We lost out at the start and then not a lot happened after that. We keep trying and keep improving and I’m sure we’ll get there, but it’s all about… all the small details have to be exactly there and then you will get the first place. The four or five of us are very close most of the time, so it’s the small differences that make a big difference in the end.

Valtteri, special day for you as we have already said. You also got driver of the day; that’s another little celebration you didn’t know about. Got to talk to you about that start: [Sebastian] said you more or less but you couldn’t have, you absolutely out-dragged both of them.
VB: Yeah, I mean, I think here normally starting from the second row is not too bad. I had a good start, if anything maybe slightly better than the guys in front. Obviously slipstreaming managed to get the inside for Turn 1. That was OK, but I’m a little bit more happy about the safety car restart actually.

He has big shoulders, he has a lot to live up to because he’s got Kimi, Keke Rosberg and of course Mika [Häkkinen], all world champion Finns. Are you going to be the next world champion Finn?
VB: For me that’s the only goal in my career, so we will keep pushing for that.