Bottas enjoys perfect qualifying en route to P3 in Belgium

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Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix from third place on the grid after Williams enjoyed a near-perfect qualifying session at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

After finishing no higher than ninth in practice, Williams bounced back on Saturday afternoon as Bottas finished behind only the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Q3.

With just 0.3 seconds separating third to ninth in the final stage of qualifying, the battle behind the Silver Arrows was a close one, but was won by Bottas as he edged out Romain Grosjean for P3.

The result marked Bottas’ first top three finish in qualifying of the year, and his first since last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“Yeah, good to be back in the top three in qualifying,” Bottas said. “It was a good session for us. We knew after practice looking at the timesheets there was so much more we could do when we put everything together in the car.

“In Q3, it was up to me to try and put the lap together, try and put every corner together, which isn’t easy in this kind of track. had two good runs in Q3 and luckily that was enough for P3.

“Analyzing everything after practice, we knew it was going to be really close after these guys, so we knew possibly P3 could be possible if we did everything perfectly.

“It was close, and we managed to get everything right, so this was the result.”

The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”