British GP Paddock Notebook – Thursday

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If I were to say to you “name five classic circuits in F1”, you’d probably say Spa, Monza, Suzuka, Monaco and Silverstone. Therefore, when it comes to one of these grands prix, it is always a special event.

This weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone is set to be a thrilling one as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton go head-to-head. Rosberg may have the championship lead, but can Lewis make home advantage count this weekend?

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

Thursday is media day in Formula 1, so we got a chance to speak with the drivers and get their thoughts on a number of topics.

  • Valtteri Bottas spoke to NBC Sports yesterday about Kimi Raikkonen’s motivation and the possible loss of Monza from Formula 1.
  • The MotorSportsTalk writing team made its predictions ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
  • Esteban Gutierrez was honest about Sauber’s chances in 2014, saying “it cannot get much worse”.
  • Ferrari announced that Haas Automation – owned by Gene Haas – has joined the team as a sponsor, thus opening the door for a technical partnership between the two upon Haas Formula’s entry to F1 in 2016.
  • Former Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul has returned to Renault.
  • We preview this weekend’s race, looking at the main talking points for the weekend.
  • Jenson Button has revealed the helmet he will be wearing for this weekend’s race.

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Silverstone usually marks the first race where people begin to look forward to the next season. Most notably, the older drivers on the grid – Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen – are both coming under scrutiny. Quite whether both will be in F1 next season is unclear, but Kimi has suggested that 2015 will be his last before quitting… again.

So maybe it’s better that we look at the younger drivers. Esteban Gutierrez has had a miserable season so far, yet he was surprisingly upbeat during his media session. He was very honest about the car, joking that the best part was how strong it was when he crashed. Adrian Sutil was also in good spirits, but both were quick to say how great a loss Monza would be to Formula 1 should Bernie Ecclestone’s threat turn into a reality.

We also had the chance to speak to American youngster Conor Daly this morning. The GP2 driver spoke widely about his fight to keep racing, his hopes for the future and the possibility of an IndyCar drive in the future. We will be bringing you the full interview soon on MotorSportsTalk.

This afternoon, we sat down with Sergio Perez for a chat about his career and current place at Force India. After such a rough ride in 2013, it is great to see a young driver back fighting at the front and impressing many within F1. You can read it later today on MST.

Finally, FIA race director Charlie Whiting spoke to the media this evening about the changes made for 2014 and the recent decisions taken by the World Motor Sport Council. Unsurprisingly, standing starts, double points and the engine noise came up, but he did reveal that many of the changes that have been deemed unpopular were suggested and supported wholeheartedly by the teams.

Tomorrow will see the drivers take to the track for free practice one and two. To find out how to watch these sessions live with NBC Sports, click here.

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
Dan Mullan/Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

HISTORY IN SIGHTLewis Hamilton aims to tie Michael Schumacher’s record

The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.