MELBOURNE, Australia -- Valtteri Bottas delivered a not-so-subtle message for his critics after crossing the line to win the season-opening Australian Grand Prix by over 20 seconds to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
"To whom it may concern, f--- you," Bottas shouted into his radio, immediately after taking the chequered flag at Albert Park.
Plenty have been skeptical of the Finn keeping his seat at the constructors' champions, particularly after a winless 2018 campaign, but Bottas vowed to come back stronger this year and take the challenge to his five-time world championship winning teammate. His race in Melbourne, one he has hailed the best performance of his career, proves he is well and truly up for the fight.
He had started in P2, behind Hamilton, but a lightning getaway saw him lead the field into the first corner. He then controlled the race and eeked out his advantage at the front. So confident was Bottas in Australia that he even set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap, netting him an extra world championship point courtesy of Formula One's latest rule change.
Later, when he was asked who he had aimed the comment at,he said: "It would be quite a long list, honestly. Unfortunately, that's how it goes. I'm sure the people to who it was would know it.
"It just came. I just wanted to send my best regards to him. That's it. Honestly, I didn't think about it and I didn't have anything planned. There are many people that support you and I really appreciate it a lot -- the people that are around supporting me.
"There are always ups and downs, so you can really see the true support quite easily. During the difficult times there is the other part that is a lot more negative, but that is their weakness and that's fine."
"I can't say unfair [criticism] last year because anyone can say whatever they want. Just for the whom it may concern, they should look in the mirror sometimes and think actually why they do that. For me it is OK now."
Bottas says the victory is better than any of the three he claimed in 2017.
"It was definitely the best race I have had in my life. The key thing, for me, was the race start. To get to the lead and then being at the front I could show strong pace [and] pull a gap.
"The race pace was much stronger than what we expected coming into this week. The car was feeling so good today, it was truly enjoyable [and] I'm really, really pleased with the way the season has started."
His victory and fastest lap in Melbourne has given him the perfect 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.
"It's quite difficult to explain what's been going on here this last winter inside me head. "Every year you learn as a person. You learn about yourself and what works and doesn't work for you. Definitely something changed in terms of the way I feel about things in life in general and racing.
"For us as a team, we have such a strong package going forward and for myself, having a tricky last year, to start the season like this is very good."