Valtteri Bottas fires expletive to recent critics after Australian Grand Prix win

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Valtteri Bottas hit back at his critics on the track with a dominant win at the Australian Grand Prix - and had strong words for his doubters as well.

The Finn was out-qualified by Lewis Hamilton in Melbourne but was quicker into turn one and rounded off a stellar weekend by taking the bonus point for fastest lap.

His victory and fastest lap in Melbourne has given him the flawless start to the new season, as well as the championship lead for the first time in his career and Bottas admits it's all due to a shift in mentality.

When told it was, Bottas said: "I just want to say: thank you Charlie".

"So working with what I was given, I think I did a relatively decent job".

"It was definitely the best race I have had in my life". "During the hard times it's the other part which is a lot more negative and that is their weakness".

In qualifying this weekend, he held the lap record temporarily until Hamilton swooped on the last lap and with seconds to go to take that from him, along with pole position.

"What I was shown and led to believe was that, from the analysis we were given, that they were ahead and obviously that wasn't the case during this weekend". Collecting that extra point I think is good. Just the auto was feeling so good today, it was truly enjoyable.

"I'm very, very pleased with today, but it's only the first race and we have another 20 races to go." .

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Instead, it took an order from the team garage just to preserve his fourth placing, with new boy Leclerc warned off from overtaking the four-times champion in the final laps.

In the post race interview, the German admitted that he was baffled by how Lewis was driving and if he was too bored to challenge Bottas for the win.

For Hamilton, it was his fourth consecutive pole position around Albert Park and his fourth consecutive second-place finish. "Valtteri got a better start. Unfortunately, I lost then Seb's position and Max's (Verstappen) position and was fifth and we finished there".

"Sebastian was managing his pace because of poor grip and bringing the vehicle home".

He is now tied in second place with Juan Manuel Fangio, and is one triumph ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. "And we have not been able to exploit it through the weekend".

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won last year's opener but the Italian team's lack of pace, after arriving as favourites following a strong showing in pre-season testing, provided a major talking point.

If Gasly was the big casualty of Q1, Australian race fans will have been heartbroken to see Ricciardo eliminated from Q2, a 1m22.921s mark only good enough for P12 on the grid, a place behind teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

British rookies Lando Norris wound up 12th in his McLaren and George Russell 16th in the Williams.