Williams team mates at odds over last-lap pass

2 Comments

Williams team mates Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado has differing views over their last-lap change of positions at the chicane.

Maldonado dived down the inside of Bottas at the chicane on the last lap, forcing his team mate off the circuit as he claimed 16th place.

A disgruntled Bottas told the BBC: “If I would have not go straight from the chicane we would have crashed, so I think the racing shouldn’t be like that.”

“The move he made for me there was no, for me, any space to keep on the track so I don’t think it’s really fair,” he added.

Bottas was struggling with tyre degradation at the time having run a long stint at the end of the race. His lap times had risen by three seconds and he’d already been passed by both Toro Rosso drivers and Sergio Perez.

Maldonado defended the move on his team mate, describing it as “close but quite clean”.

“It was pleasing to be able to make a move on the last lap to gain a position over my team mate,” he added.

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “We allow our drivers to race and that’s what they were doing on that last lap.”

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.”