"The first run was not really tidy, so I left it to the end, and I improved some time in the last sector", said Vettel, who had to wait before confirmation came over the radio that Mercedes were beaten.
Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, has not been on the podium since July past year and Saturday was the first time the Finn had qualified on the front row since Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix in September 2015. I think I had the pace to fight with Kimi but the auto was just overheating all the time.
Bottas, new to Hamilton's Mercedes team this year after replacing defending champion Nico Rosberg, held his nerve in a nail-biting ending at the Sochi Autodrom to keep Vettel at bay and become only the fifth Finnish driver to win in Formula One.
"Took quite a while, more than 80 races", said Bottas, who had his debut with Williams in 2013. Now I just want to do it again. "I hope that's the case but I'll find out when the lights go out". "I can't imagine it is going to be a case of Sebastian pulling away", said the two-times victor in Russian Federation. The event marked the second win of Mercedes AMG Petronas this season and the Finn's first win in his F1 career. He went on to win 20 races, as has countryman Kimi Raikkonen. Indeed that is where he would finish on a desperately disappointing day for Britain's triple world champion.
But Valtteri Bottas had other ideas as he secured his first ever F1 Grand Prix Sunday and maintained Mercedes dominance on Russia's Black Sea coast.
Red Bull is working on a radical overhaul of its RB13 to help bring much needed downforce, having initially focused on producing a low-drag auto only to trail the top two teams in the opening races. "This unusual opportunity came to me in the winter to join this team and they made it possible today".
Vettel remains leader of the drivers' championship, 13 points ahead of Hamilton, while Bottas has closed to within 10 points of his team-mate in third.
It's fair to say that, though rare, when Lewis Hamilton has an "off" weekend, it is totally off, think Baku previous year or Singapore 2015. But, even so, hopefully I got some points at least for the team. Now I have the chance to prove I can win races and titles.
He was certainly out of contention for the victory, and despite getting to within two seconds of Raikkonen, never threatened the Ferrari driver for the final place on the podium.