The Finn won his first grand prix on Sunday in Russian Federation and is now in third place on 63 points, 10 behind Lewis Hamilton, his Mercedes team-mate.
Valtteri Bottas' win at Sochi rescued Mercedes after Ferrari dominated qualifying proved already that he is likely to be just as formidable a team-mate as Nico Rosberg to three-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
"A big congratulations to Valtteri, he did an exceptional job all weekend - he was quickest". "He's been fast all weekend, so exceptional and great for the team. I am out of the race now".
However, the three-time world champion, who suffered with mechanical failures a year ago when he lost the title to Rosberg, did not believe the issues were fundamental to the vehicle.
"There is no extra aggravation which we had previous year".
Bottas made a blistering start from third on the grid, benefitting from a slow-starting Raikkonen and then passing Vettel on the run to Turn 2 to take the lead.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff expects an intense fight between Bottas and Hamilton this season, but he insists the dynamic is very different to the one the team has endured recently. I'm confident that we have the right people, the right tools on board and we will make progress.
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"I can't remember having as hard a weekend", Hamilton told reporters following his fourth-place finish. But the fresh set of tyres helped the Ferrari driver, and four-time F1 champion, catch up to the auto ahead of him.
"I've never had cooling issues like that before but it meant I was out of the race from the get-go". While Vettel stayed out for a long time, Raikkonen pitted first and came back out on track to start posting some excellent times. They are fierce competitors and want to win races.
It was hard to recall a time where even Nico Rosberg, the man whom Bottas replaced at Mercedes, delivered such a devastating defeat.
From there Bottas took charge, but Hamilton, in the sister Mercedes, was having a race to forget.
"But, actually getting the confirmation and getting the result [is important]".
Asked what Hamilton had said to him as they met each other in parc ferme at Sochi, Bottas said: "He congratulated me". Vettel, on 86 points, leads Hamilton by 13 but Bottas is only 10 behind his team-mate on 63 and while discussion before Russian Federation centered on whether team orders would be imposed to favour Hamilton, the win has only strengthened Bottas's resolve to pursue the title.