Bottas leads Williams’ charge at Spa as Massa suffers more bad luck

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Valtteri Bottas continued to prove himself to be of the breakout stars of the 2014 Formula 1 season in Belgium yesterday, finishing third behind race winner Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.

The Williams driver scored his fourth podium finish of the season at Spa to move within eleven points of third-placed Fernando Alonso in the standings. The Spaniard lost out to Bottas early on, and eventually finished the race down in seventh place.

“Our pace was solid today and a lot better than in qualifying, with some good battles with the Ferraris and Red Bulls, and I think third was probably the right result,” Bottas said after the race.

“I was stuck behind slower cars at the beginning which made the first stint difficult, but I managed to make my way past cars when it was needed and that was important for my race.

“We came into this race aiming for a podium and it is very satisfying to achieve that after an up and down weekend with tricky weather and Felipe [Massa] being very unlucky today with debris.”

Massa endured an anonymous race after getting some of the debris from Lewis Hamilton’s tire on his car. This cost him a great deal of performance, meaning that he could finish no higher than 13th on track.

“Unfortunately at the beginning of the race I had some tire debris stuck in the floor that came from Hamilton’s car and this made the car very slow, losing about two seconds per lap,” Massa explained. “This wasn’t removed until my second pitstop and after that I was nearly three seconds quicker and the fastest car on track, but at this point it was too late for me to really do anything.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed that something like this has hurt my race and I just hope that in Monza my luck will change and I am able to put the car in the sort of position it is capable of.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III