Seatbelt problem leaves Bottas to struggle to P10 in Brazil

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A problem with the seatbelt on his Williams FW36 car cost Valtteri Bottas a top five finish in yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, with the Finnish driver eventually crossing the line in 10th place.

Bottas has been one of the breakout stars of the 2014 Formula 1 season, claiming five podium finishes to rank sixth in the drivers’ championship, marking a dramatic turnaround in fortunes following a troublesome campaign in 2013.

After qualifying fourth, Bottas would have been hoping to push for a podium finish at Interlagos. However, thanks to a problem with his seatbelt, the Finn had to take a prolonged pit stop whilst the problem was fixed, dropping him well down the order.

“It was a race full of different problems for me and in the end it just wasn’t my day,” Bottas said. “I had an issue with my belts at the beginning that we resolved at the first pit stop but this lost me a lot of time and I also lost time in the second stop.

“The conditions were very challenging as tire wear was high and all cars were experiencing graining. As a team we have managed to come away with some decent points and I’m happy for Felipe [Massa] as the crowd reaction after he got out of the car was very special.

“These sort of days happen in Formula 1 and we need to regroup and make sure that Abu Dhabi is a problem free race for us.”

Williams’ race day in Brazil was a reverse of the luck that we have seen for much of this season, with Massa facing a number of problems. However, he managed to secure an emotional podium finish at his home track on Sunday, and he will be hoping to carry this form into the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi.

Bottas still has a chance of finishing the year in fourth place, with just three points separating Sebastian Vettel (159), Fernando Alonso (157) and the Finn (156) ahead of the double points race at Yas Marina.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”