Maldonado and Bottas reflect on difficult day

0 Comments

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas have both been left frustrated following Friday’s practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The Williams drivers have endured a difficult season so far, scoring just a solitary point between them, and although Maldonado showed signs of improved pace during the first session today, the Venezuelan driver has called on the team to up their game.

“It is quite difficult to put a lap together as there is some inconsistency in how the car behaves through different corners, but we will see where we are tomorrow as the track is changing a lot,” he explained. “We weren’t able to improve our time too much this afternoon so we need to work harder to make sure we are better tomorrow.”

Maldonado finished ninth and fourteenth in FP1 and FP2 respectively, ahead of teammate Bottas who could only finish sixteenth and eighteenth at Monza today. The Finn echoed Maldonado’s thoughts, also identifying “inconsistencies” in the pace of the FW35 car.

“It wasn’t an easy day today,” Bottas said. “We had some inconsistencies in the aerodynamics during FP1 and then in FP2 we were missing quite a lot of straight-line speed on my option tire run. We need to look at why that happened as that is why the time doesn’t look so good on the board.”

However, he is pleased that the team appears to be challenging closest-rivals Sauber and Toro Rosso, boding well for the race on Sunday.

“The positive thing today was the long run as we were competitive compared to Toro Rosso and Sauber and I think we can really challenge them in the race this weekend.”

The high-speed nature of the circuit is expected to suit the FW35 car, but Williams will need to up their game if they are to challenge for points in the final European round of the season.

How IndyCar rookie Sting Ray Robb got that name (and some more of his backstory)

IndyCar Sting Ray Robb
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
0 Comments

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Every NTT IndyCar Series season brings a new round of getting to know the rookies, and it’s fairly obvious where the story starts with Sting Ray Robb.

Just for clarification, “Robb” is the last name. His given name indeed is “String Ray” on the birth certificate.

Why, yes, he does come from performance-car parentage.

And yes, the IndyCar rookie named “Sting Ray” will be driving the No. 51 Dallara-Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware.

How did that go over with a mom and dad who clearly prefer American automotive brands?

“That’s a tricky question,” Robb said with a laugh Tuesday during the IndyCar Preseason Content Days. “Yeah, my parents are big Corvette fans, and I think that they ruled out criticizing me too badly because they know the dream is IndyCar.”

“I’ll be in a Honda car and I’m assuming it’ll go pretty quick, so I’m OK with all of that.”

“They’re not going to rename you ‘NSX’ or something?” asked Motorsport.com’s David Malsher-Lopez (whose bitingly sardonic wit is regularly heard in IndyCar media centers).

“No. I hope not,” Robb said. “My name is my name. I don’t need a rename, thank you.”

Robb, 21, has been making a name for himself lately, finishing second in last year’s Indy NXT standings with 11 top-five finishes, eight podiums and two pole positions.

But the Payette, Idaho, native also has an intriguing backstory beyond his successful four years in the Road to Indy ladder system (that also included the 2020 Indy Pro title).

He hails from the same small town (northwest of Boise on the Oregon border) that produced Minnesota Twins slugger and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

Robb, whose graduating class was less than 100, recently found that Wikipedia listed him and Killebrew as the “notable alumni” from Payette High School.

“It’s nice to be see and appreciate all the things that I’ve learned and been through,” said Robb, who also played some baseball in his day, adding that “I’m more of a consistent singles hitter, slap hitter if you want to call it. No home runs, just doubles or triples here and there.”

Some other facts on the newest memorable name of IndyCar:

–He’s managed by Pieter Rossi (father of Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner), but he also gets a lot of help from his mother, Kimmie.

“We call her my ‘momager’ because she’s my mom and my manager,” Robb said. “She has been a huge role in my career because she does things that I’m unable to do as a driver.

“She’s able to play hardball with the contracts, etc., and have my best interest in mind when it comes to negotiating, along with Pieter. He may be someone that has a lot of experience in the series with Alexander, but he may not know what’s best for me. It’s good to have them both on my side, and I can learn a lot from them.”

–His family have been lifelong supporters since go-karting. “It was my mom, my dad, my grandparents on the road every weekend,” he said. “My dad has missed one race in my entire life, and it was because he was in the hospital. So we let him have a pass, and he was still on the phone every 30 minutes making sure that tire pressure was right, engine temp was right, we had the right gear on the car, etc.”

–Robb graduated high school a year early to focus on racing after being home-schooled as a child. “I went to someone’s house actually, and she taught me from the time I was in pre-K through sixth grade,” Robb said. “So in seventh grade I started going to public school, and I hate to say it, but I feel like I stopped learning after that point. But it was OK. I got some social skills, lucky for you guys.”

–He also has a wild story about how he landed his current ride during a random encounter in a trip to the gym (which you can read about here).