Bottas hails ‘important’ Abu Dhabi win to end F1 2017 on a high

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Valtteri Bottas felt his victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was “really important” after ending a four-month win drought to finish the 2017 season on a high.

Bottas managed to convert pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit into his third career victory, soaking up race-long pressure from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to finish 3.8 seconds clear at the checkered flag.

The result saw Bottas end a winless run stretching back to the Austrian Grand Prix in July, offering a boost heading into the off-season.

“It is really important win for me after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year, working hard on all the issues and getting better and better with everything,” Bottas said.

“This weekend, I couldn’t be happier to end the season like this. Obviously, congrats to Lewis for the title, congrats to Sebastian [Vettel] for the second place in the championship.

“I was third this year – hopefully better next year.”

Hamilton drew close to Bottas on two separate occasions during the race before dropping back, but the Finn was happy with the execution of his victory.

“I was really managing the pace and that way the race, that was the feeling,” Bottas said. “It was a nice feeling. I had one bit of a lock up as I was approaching one of the lapped cars, but otherwise no issues.

“The last five laps I started to go a bit quicker, managed to build a gap. I am really pleased, the car was so good.

“You know we Finns we maybe do not show emotion, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have any. I’m so happy.

“There’s been so much support from my family and everyone, so yeah. I can’t show it too much but I feel good.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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