Valtteri Bottas is revelling in Williams’ resurgence after bringing home more points than both he and the team scored in the entirety of last season at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Finn produced the stand-out performance of the race last Sunday with a series of brave overtakes and great passing moves. Having been slapped with a gearbox penalty, Bottas started down in 15th place and fought back up to run in P6 after 12 laps. However, contact with the wall at turn ten forced him to pit for repairs, and he dropped back down to 16th place. The Williams driver simply fought back though, re-passing the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Jean-Eric Vergne to finish the race in fifth place following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification.
“If we’d had good qualifying and a clean race, I think we had a car to fight for the podium,” Bottas explained to Sky Sports. “That was the most fun race I’ve ever had. Of course, we had the mistake but it was proper racing I think.”
With 10 points for fifth place, Bottas eclipsed his own total from 2013 (4 points) and that of his team (5), with the new FW36 excelling with the regulation change for 2014. Now, the Finn is banking on another strong result in Malaysia to back up his biggest points haul yet.
“We have more points than last year and the car is so much quicker compared to others. I’m really happy with what we’ve done over the winter and in testing. Malaysia will be a very different track, it will be more like a proper race track.
“We will see there, but we do expect that we can really fight in the top six positions and I’m very, very much looking forward.”
Teammate Felipe Massa will be looking to score his first points for Williams in Malaysia after being crashed into by Kamui Kobayashi at turn one last weekend.
Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.
During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.
That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.
This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.
Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.
Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.
“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”
Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.