Bottas, Gutierrez set for five place grid drop after gearbox change

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Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez have both been forced into making a gearbox change ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. As a result, they will drop five places on the grid from their position in qualifying later today.

Under the technical regulations for 2014, gearboxes must last six consecutive race weekends, although usage remains free and flexible on Fridays. As per the last few years, any driver that requires a new gearbox unit is susceptible to a five place grid penalty.

Williams’ successful weekend in Australia hit a bump in the road as Bottas could only complete two laps in the final practice session on Saturday afternoon. The Finn was unable to post a lap time, and the team later confirmed on Twitter that a new gearbox was required on the #77 car, warranting a five place grid drop.

Gutierrez’s gearbox problem also came during the final practice session. After ten minutes in FP3, the Mexican’s Sauber C33 began to slow out on track. Although he did manage to get the car back to the pits, Gutierrez was unable to come out again. With a fresh gearbox though, he will be able to take part in qualifying, albeit knowing that he will drop five places from his final qualifying position.

In order to complete more work on their cars, both Marussia and Lotus broke their curfews overnight. However, they are permitted to do so on occasion throughout the season, meaning that there will be no penalty.

In a couple of minor changes, Q1 has been shortened by two minutes, whilst Q3 has been extended by two minutes. Drivers will no longer start on the tire that they set their fastest time in Q3 on, but instead the compound which they use in Q2. Those making it through to Q3 will also receive an extra set of option tires, encouraging multiple runs in the final session.

Qualifying begins at 2am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.