Bottas disappointed to miss out on maiden pole in Russia

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Valtteri Bottas was just one sector away from securing his first ever Formula 1 pole position in Russia today, falling just short in the final part of Q3 to qualifying third for tomorrow’s race in Sochi.

Bottas has enjoyed a superb season with Williams, scoring four podium finishes to rank sixth in the drivers’ championship. In a year that Mercedes has ruled with an iron fist, he has been one of the breakout stars.

In Russia, Mercedes looked to have pole position sewn up once again today, only for Bottas to go quicker than both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the first two sectors of his final hot lap.

However, his tires faded at the last corner, sending him wide and forcing him to settle for third place on the grid.

“I didn’t know at that time I was close to pole, I only knew how it was compared to my best lap which was the previous lap,” Bottas explained after the session. “I had one more lap to go, maybe looking back I took a bit too much out of the tires at the beginning of the lap, and the last sector became a bit more tricky.

“As I was gaining time compared to my best towards the end, it became more difficult in the last few corners. I risked a bit too much in the last two corners and went a little bit wide. Here, when you go off line, it’s really slippery like everyone saw, and that was it.”

Bottas admitted that he felt disappointed to have missed the chance for his first F1 pole position, but he thinks that pole sitter Lewis Hamilton would still have been ahead of him had he not run wide.

“Of course, yeah,” Bottas said when asked if he was disappointed. “It’s not nice to make a mistake, but in the end, today maybe cost one place maximum.

“The mistake was taking a bit too much out of the tires at the beginning of the lap. That’s what made me struggle in the end of the lap. The lap before, I’m quite happy about that.”

You can watch tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET tomorrow.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.