Bottas disappointed to miss Australian GP through injury

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Valtteri Bottas made no secret of his disappointment on Sunday after being forced to miss the season-opening Australian Grand Prix due to a back injury.

During qualifying for the race on Saturday, Bottas sustained a minor tear to the annular part of a disc in his lower back, warranting a visit to hospital in Melbourne.

The Finn’s condition was monitored in the hours leading up to the start in Australia, but the FIA medical delegate made a final call that he would not be able to race on Sunday.

“I have done a lot of work since the issue with my back came in qualifying to get myself ready, starting treatment immediately, so the news that I couldn’t race today was obviously disappointing but I respect the decision,” Bottas said after the race.

“I now have two weeks until the next race to receive further treatment to ensure I will be back to full fitness and even stronger in Malaysia. I’m very eager to get back in the car and race because the FW37 is looking competitive and I’m confident we can fight for podiums.”

Bottas had been due to start the race from sixth place for Williams, but his DNS left teammate Felipe Massa fighting alone against Ferrari in the race to complete the podium behind the Mercedes drivers.

Massa eventually had to settle for fourth place after losing out to Sebastian Vettel in the one and only round of pit stops, but Williams’ head of vehicle development Rob Smedley was pleased not to have lost too much ground on the Italian team in Melbourne.

“It’s always difficult to compete with only 50% of your armoury with Valtteri having to miss the race, so today was about damage limitation in the constructors’ championship and we have managed to come away only a few points behind Ferrari which is a decent result,” Smedley said.

“The team worked very well as a unit all weekend; the pitstop was good and so was the work on the pitwall. We made a decision to pit early because Vettel was a bit quicker behind us, but unfortunately this didn’t pay off for us.

“We are in a really competitive battle with the teams around us so this race is a marker for the rest of the season. We need to continue improving the car and getting maximum performance from what is a strong package.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.