Valtteri Bottas claims first ever podium finish in Austria

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Valtteri Bottas has claimed his first ever podium finish in F1 at the Austrian Grand Prix today, finishing in third place behind Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

The Finnish driver started the race in second place behind teammate Felipe Massa, but the Williams drivers were unable to hold the Silver Arrows back as Mercedes claimed its sixth one-two finish of the season at the Red Bull Ring today.

Bottas did not roll over in the face of Mercedes’ dominance, though. After losing second place to Rosberg off the line, the Finn claimed the position back at turn two with a fine move on the German driver. He then pushed on and came out of the pits between the two Mercedes drivers, behind Rosberg, having passed Felipe Massa in the stops.

Hamilton passed Bottas during the final round of pit stops, after which Williams focused on seeing the checkered flag and recording its first podium finish of the season.

“Really really happy, difficult to put it into words really,” Bottas said on the podium after crossing the line. “Just really thankful for the team, for giving me this car.

“It’s been a long wait for us since last year and many, many years at Williams, now it’s so much better. The race was exactly what we needed at this point: clean, nice, everything went like planned really.

“The car was good for podium this time, and I’m just so happy.”

The Finn has come close to finishing on the podium on a number of times this season, but today he finally broke his duck and secured his first top three finish since making his F1 debut at the beginning of 2013.

Pole-sitter Felipe Massa could only come home in fourth place despite starting from pole position, but the team will still be elated with the overall result after a difficult few years in Formula 1.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.