Valtteri Bottas says his first Formula One victory feels "surreal" after winning the Russian Grand Prix.
Bottas took the lead with a storming start from third and held off a late charge from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in a tense finale to claim his maiden F1 victory on his 81st race start in Sochi. The Finn reckons the win was one of the best performances of his career.
"It's going to take a while [to sink in]," Bottas said. "I have to say that I'm not normally that emotional, but hearing the Finnish national anthem is something quite special for me, so it felt good.
"It's a little bit surreal, obviously it's the first win, hopefully first of many! It was definitively one of my best races ever, personally, so it's a good feeling. I'm just happy."
The only blip in a near-faultless race from Bottas was a lock-up at Turn 13 on lap 38, which forced him to briefly run wide, and hurt him in the later stages of the race as Vettel closed in. Despite having his advantage significantly cut by Vettel in the final laps, Bottas insists he did not feel overwhelmed by the extreme pressure.
"It was OK, the main thing was the lapped cars, trying to pass them. With these new cars you definitively lose more downforce, when you're already two or three second behind them, so it was tricky to get close and pass them without losing time. That wasn't the main thing in the end and I wasn't quite happy on a few occasions.
"I also had one lock up, maybe ten or 15 laps from the end, which hurt the pace a little bit, but apart from that it was OK," he added. "I did ask for a bit more of radio silence from the guys on the pit wall, just for me to get on it and focus, feeling a bit more like home. It was nice and quiet and that helped."
Bottas, who became Finland's first winner in F1 since Kimi Raikkonen took victory at the 2013 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, believes the result will give him a boost for the rest of the season.
"Obviously I always knew I can do good results, if everything goes right. I always trusted my ability but it's nice to get a confirmation that this kind of results are possible, everything is possible. It's definitively good to continue from here."