Bottas confident Williams can cut gap to Mercedes and Ferrari


Valtteri Bottas is confident that the upgrades Williams is planning to bring to the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks’ time will allow the team to cut the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of field in Formula 1.

Williams has established itself as the third-fastest team so far this season, but appears to be stranded in that position.

It enjoys a sizeable advantage over Red Bull and Lotus, who are scrapping over P4 in the pecking order, but remains far behind the vastly-improved Ferrari team and pace-setters Mercedes.

However, in Bahrain, Bottas suggested that Williams can fight with the leading two teams by fending off Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari for fourth place in the final stint of the race.

Vettel had been set for a podium finish before running wide over some kerbing and sustaining damage to his front wing, forcing Ferrari into a third pit stop and dropping the German driver behind Bottas, who only stopped twice. He crossed the line with an advantage of just one second.

After enduring a very lonely Chinese Grand Prix, Bottas was delighted with the result, and set out his goals for the next race in Spain in his Williams blog.

“I have to say it’s great to have another race weekend immediately after a difficult one, like the Chinese Grand Prix was for us,” Bottas said. “And even better when we could see we made progress after the race in Shanghai.

“It’s now nicer to go to the break before the European races knowing we’re making progress. As for myself, I had a good weekend, a very good lap in qualifying and a great race, so it’s better to have a longer break on the back of such a result.”

Bottas is confident that the upgrades Williams is planning to take to the Spanish Grand Prix will draw the team closer to Mercedes and Ferrari, but is unsure whether the team will be able to overhaul the front-runners this year, such is their rate of development.

“We need to make sure the new parts we’ll have for Barcelona will really work as expected, because if that’s the case we will be closer to Mercedes and Ferrari in Spain,” Bottas said.

“I’m confident that will be the case because since last year we have had a great development program but this year it will be difficult to completely close the gap to the top two teams because Ferrari made a huge step forward since the first race.

“I’m confident that we will keep improving, but of course it will then depend on how much the teams in front improve as to whether we can catch up with them or not.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.