Valtteri Bottas and Williams Martini Racing made something of a deal heading into this weekend that the Bottas-to-Ferrari rumors had the potential to damage driver and team’s relationship.
Yet it’s miscues like the one that struck Bottas today in the Belgian Grand Prix that has actual implications, and wound up costing them better points.
After starting third, Bottas ended an unrepresentative ninth after the Williams team botched a pit stop on Lap 10, providing the Finn with a mismatched set of prime tires.
After it happened, the team tweeted this:
Bottas served a drive-through penalty on Lap 15 and then pitted again on Lap 23 to take on a full, unblemished set of primes.
By that point the damage was done and Bottas could only get back to ninth, as he and Felipe Massa both gained a spot in the final laps following Sebastian Vettel’s tire blowout.
“We haven’t got the result we were after today,” Bottas said post-race. “The pit stop and the race pace are two areas that we need to investigate.
“We thought we would be stronger during the race but the soft tire in the first stint didn’t work as well and put us in a difficult position. We have to make sure we bounce back well in Monza.”
Massa’s sixth place moves him ahead of Bottas in the Driver’s Championship, 82-79. Massa and Raikkonen are now level fourth on 82, with Bottas down to sixth on 79.
The team lost two points to Red Bull in the fight for third in the Constructor’s Championship. However Williams still leads that, 161-108.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”