Button looking forward to Russian GP in 2014

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Jenson Button has become the latest driver to give his support to the upcoming Russian Grand Prix, set to debut in 2014.

Russia will host the Winter Olympics at Sochi in 2014, with the new circuit being built as part of the complex for the event. The officials in Sochi have signed a seven year deal to host Formula One, and Button is pleased that the sport is heading to such an exciting new market.

“As a driver I’m really excited and looking forward to race at the new grand prix and in a new country as well,” Button told Sky Sports.

“There’s lot of interest in Formula One in Russia and a lot of passionate fans. It’s great for the fans to hear, to smell and to feel the Formula One cars’ speed. It’s nice to see that motor sports are receiving more and more recognition in Russia.”

Russia could also see its second full-time driver in the sport next season as 17-year-old Sergey Sirotkin could be set to drive for Sauber as part of their rescue deal, following in the footsteps of Vitaly Petrov, who debuted in 2010 for Renault.

The track at Sochi has already received approval from three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who visited the area earlier this year.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”