Bottas: “I earned my place” in Formula One this season

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It was a trying Formula One season altogether for Williams, but their young driver Valtteri Bottas still managed to have some nice moments in his rookie F1 campaign, including his first points-paying finish at the United States Grand Prix.

Bottas appears to have a good future ahead of him in F1 and will return to Williams next season, pairing up with former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. With all of that in mind, the Finnish driver says in his rookie blog on F1’s official website that he has earned his place in the sport.

“It shows that the team really trusts me – and as soon as it was announced, I got my first points,” Bottas writes of his re-up with Williams and his subsequent eighth-place finish in Austin.

“This might look like a coincidence, but the truth is that we finally got our car a bit quicker and that allowed me to score points. That was truly nice.”

Bottas’ chances to shine were fleeting as the Williams FW35 was nowhere near capable of helping to make a front-runner out of himself or teammate Pastor Maldonado (now off to Lotus).

But he was still able to out-hustle his Venezuelan partner in qualifying, 12 races to 7, and out-point him this year, 4-1. Bottas maintains that both were treated equally this year by the team, but that it was great to beat Maldonado despite having less experience: “If that happens, you know as a rookie that something is going right for you,” he writes.

With Maldonado gone, Bottas is looking ahead to 2014 and teaming up with Massa, an 11-time Grand Prix winner. The young gun certainly wants to beat the veteran Brazilian, but knows that the top priority is helping Williams make strides back towards the front of the grid.

“I have no doubt that he is quick, but the nature of Formula One – and especially the nature of a team-mate relationship – is that you want to be faster than him,” Bottas writes.

“I am no exception to that rule! But we also have to work closely together to push the team forward.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.