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Bottas: Massa “more of a team player” than ex-teammate

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Pastor Maldonado’s acrimonious departure from Williams at the end of last season must seem like a distant memory for the Grove squad now, which appears to have brighter days ahead with a competitive FW36, a promising sophomore in Valtteri Bottas, and a steady veteran in Maldonado’s replacement, Felipe Massa.

While he knows that he’ll have to hang tough against the Brazilian in the obligatory intra-team battle, Bottas appears to have taken more of a liking to Massa than Maldonado – who now runs for a Lotus team that struggled in the winter and again in yesterday’s first two practice sessions at the Australian Grand Prix.

“I believe this season is an opportunity for me to learn from a team guy a little bit more than last year,” Bottas told a Finnish broadcaster about his partnership with Massa.

“This year the team has a more experienced guy [Massa] and he is quite different [to Maldonado] – a little more open and more willing to be more of a team player and to provide more information.”

Maldonado’s relationship with Williams degenerated last year to the point that he accused the team of sabotaging his car following qualifying for the United States Grand Prix in Austin.

Soon after, he found a home in Enstone with Lotus with the help of his large financial backing. But while Lotus was a solid fourth in the constructors championship last year, they looked very much the opposite of solid in winter testing and on Thursday in Melbourne.

Technical problems with the new E22 helped keep Maldonado from posting a time in either FP1 or FP2, but if Bottas is enjoying a bit of schadenfreude at the Venezuelan’s expense, he’s not letting on.

Instead, he’s simply focusing on the positives that Massa has helped bring across the Williams team.

“I think if you are sharing information in the team meetings and both trying to contribute to the team’s performance and providing the best possible feedback – it always helps, of course,” Bottas added.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.