Valtteri Bottas

Bottas breaks Mercedes’ stranglehold at Spa by topping FP3

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Valtteri Bottas has broken Mercedes’ dominance at the top of the timesheets in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix by finishing fastest in a damp final practice session at Spa-Francorchamps today.

The Finn posted a best time of 1:49.465 to finish two-tenths of a second clear of Daniel Ricciardo at the top, whilst Nico Rosberg came home in third ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

FP3 began in wet conditions following rain showers on Saturday morning. All of the drivers completed their installation laps on intermediate compound tires, before sitting in the pits and waiting for the track to dry. Only Andre Lotterer, Jules Bianchi and Esteban Gutierrez opted to post a time in the first half of the session.

However, it came alive once a dry line had been formed at Spa, allowing the drivers to head out on the medium compound tires. Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas both enjoyed some time at the top of the timesheets, but Mercedes once again came good with Hamilton edging out Rosberg by 0.001 seconds after the first runs.

With five minutes to go, the drivers headed back out on the quicker soft tire for their final qualifying simulations. Kimi Raikkonen was the first to lay down the gauntlet and beat Hamilton’s time before the Briton matched his lap to the thousandth of a second. Bottas moved back up to P1 by three-tenths soon after, with Rosberg slotting into second place behind the Finn. Ricciardo was the only late improver, moving up to second place.

You can watch qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix live on CNBC from 8am ET today.

Pippa Mann, breast cancer survivors paint IMS’ start/finish line pink

Photo: IndyCar
Photo: IndyCar
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We’ve written a fair bit on MotorSportsTalk about the efforts Pippa Mann has done in working with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer awareness. Susan G. Komen has supported Mann’s last two runs at the Indianapolis 500, when she’s driven the No. 63 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

This being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the awareness hit a new level with Mann working alongside breast cancer survivors to paint the start/finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s iconic Yard of Bricks pink for the day.

IMS president Doug Boles also joined in the opportunity.

View a selection of photos and social posts below. More is linked here, via

Mercedes set to clinch F1 constructors’ championship in Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 08:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP speaks with members of the media in the paddock during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 8, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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For the second year in a row, Mercedes is poised to wrap up the Formula 1 constructors’ championship in Sochi at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Mercedes won its first F1 teams’ title in Russia last year, having returned to the sport as a works constructor in 2010. When it last enjoyed such status in the 1950s, there was no championship for the teams.

Just as it did in 2014, Mercedes has dominated proceedings in F1 this season, winning all but three races and sweeping to eight one-two finishes to leave drivers Lewis Hamilton (pictured) and Nico Rosberg battling for the drivers’ title for the second straight year.

Now, Mercedes seeks the knock-out blow in the constructors’ title race by officially wrapping it up in Sochi this weekend.

To do so, the team must simply outscore rivals Ferrari by three points this weekend. The lead currently stands at 169 points, with 215 still on offer. After Sochi, there will be 172 remaining.

“We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first constructors’ title for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish,” team boss Toto Wolff said.

“A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target – but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet.”

The tire allocation for this weekend’s race could pose problems to Mercedes just as it did in Singapore, potentially allowing Ferrari to spoil the party and delay the victory celebrations at Brackley.

However, if the form book is to be trusted, Sochi could be playing host to another Mercedes party on Sunday night with a second world title in the bag for the Silver Arrows.