Williams tips Bottas as a future world champion

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Claire Williams has tipped Valtteri Bottas to become Formula One world champion in the future, despite failing to score during his opening five races for Williams F1 team.

Talking to the official Formula One website about Bottas, Williams said: “He is so great. Cool and calm. He is a typical Finn.

“I think we definitely have a future world champion at hand – but of course we have to give him the car to allow him to prove his talent.”

The FW35 car has certainly stunted the progress of both Bottas and teammate Pastor Maldonado so far in 2013, with neither driver scoring any points. At this point in 2012, the team had scored 43 points, and Maldonado had claimed one race win in Spain. Last weekend, the team was fighting off Caterham’s Charles Pic come the checkered flag, but Williams is pleased with how her rookie driver has done.

“He has done a good job so far. He has finished every race, made up positions with great overtaking manoeuvres, and is giving strong feedback to the engineers in order to improve the car.”

However, Williams admitted that solving the problems with the car was no quick-fix, and it would be some time until the team would return to the top ten.

“When we found out what the problem with the car is after Malaysia we knew that it wasn’t going to be fixed quickly. So we didn’t have the expectation that once we start the Europe campaign it would be the start of a new beginning. We still have a long road ahead of us to get back into regularly qualifying in Q3 and regularly scoring points.”

Traditionally, Williams has always ran well in Monaco, and with a few retirements, Bottas and Maldonado could yet break their pointless duck in 2013.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.