Bottas delighted to qualify fourth for Spanish GP

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Williams driver Valtteri Bottas has made no secret of his happiness after he secured fourth place on the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix during qualifying today.

The Finnish driver has finished in the top ten at every race so far this season, and currently leads experienced teammate Felipe Massa by 12 points. The team has certainly made a big step forwards after a tough 2013 that yielded just five points, but given the capability of the FW36 car, just one top five finish appears to have sold Bottas and Massa short.

However, today in Spain, Bottas proved that he is in the fight to score his first podium finish in Formula 1 this weekend by sticking his car on the second row of the grid.

“It has been quite a tough weekend up until now,” he explained. “I had to build a lot of confidence but it all came together when it mattered and I managed to get a good lap. We have made some set-up changes since FP3 and they worked well but it will be even better in the race.

“It’s difficult to overtake here and so qualifying is important. It’s going to be a close race behind the Mercedes and so I am really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley was also elated with the result. “I am very happy as the session went really well,” he said. “The pace of the cars was excellent. It is a hot track that demands a lot of downforce and the upgrades we brought here have really helped that. The pieces we have brought have worked really well.”

Massa could only qualify in ninth place on Saturday, but Smedley is confident that the Brazilian can make up for it in the race tomorrow.

“Felipe has qualified out of position as he was very fast in Q1 and Q2 but didn’t quite get the best final lap,” he explained. “There is a lot of work to do for tomorrow, but we are looking positive and are after some good points.”

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya holds some fond recent memories for the team, having been the site of its last grand prix victory in 2012 courtesy of Pastor Maldonado. Although a win might not be on the cards this weekend, there’s certainly a chance that Bottas could follow the Mercedes drivers home on the podium.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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