Valtteri Bottas has labelled his crushing victory at the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix as his “best race ever”. 

The Mercedes driver made a fast start to jump teammate and polesitter Lewis Hamilton on the run to Turn 1, before pulling into a commanding lead and dominating the Melbourne season-opener to take an emphatic victory.

It marked Bottas’ fourth career win and his first since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, having endured a tough winless campaign last season. 

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“It was definitely my best race ever,” Bottas said. “I don’t know what happened but everything just felt so under control. The car was so good today and truly enjoyable.

“It was my best race ever and I truly enjoyed it, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing car and team we have. It was such good fun.”

Bottas said the victory was testament to all of the hard work he has put in over the winter, adding he always had belief in his ability to bounce back.

“It’s all [about] the past years in Formula 1, all the work over the winter, all the work I’ve done inside here since last year," he added.

"In the beginning it was all about managing the race and trying to build a gap. After five, six, seven laps I started to build the gap and I had a great feeling. 

“I knew I could do it, I have done it before it was about being at my best level, at one in the car. The second stint… I don’t know. When you’re really on it, it feels kind of easy. In the end, it isn’t but that’s what you brain tells you.”

Bottas also took advantage of the new fastest lap point rule introduced for this season, as he claimed the bonus point on offer thanks to a late improvement on the penultimate lap - meaning the Finn holds an eight-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers’ championship. 

“I was definitely determined to get the fastest lap,” Bottas explained. “It is a new rule for this year, so as a I had a really strong pace I wanted to go for it in the end. 

“It’s always a bit risky with the old tyres but it worked. I’m so happy and cannot wait for the next race.”

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