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.
Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.
Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.
He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”
Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.
In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”
Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.
Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.