Valtteri Bottas and Williams Martini Racing made something of a deal heading into this weekend that the Bottas-to-Ferrari rumors had the potential to damage driver and team’s relationship.
Yet it’s miscues like the one that struck Bottas today in the Belgian Grand Prix that has actual implications, and wound up costing them better points.
After starting third, Bottas ended an unrepresentative ninth after the Williams team botched a pit stop on Lap 10, providing the Finn with a mismatched set of prime tires.
After it happened, the team tweeted this:
Bottas served a drive-through penalty on Lap 15 and then pitted again on Lap 23 to take on a full, unblemished set of primes.
By that point the damage was done and Bottas could only get back to ninth, as he and Felipe Massa both gained a spot in the final laps following Sebastian Vettel’s tire blowout.
“We haven’t got the result we were after today,” Bottas said post-race. “The pit stop and the race pace are two areas that we need to investigate.
“We thought we would be stronger during the race but the soft tire in the first stint didn’t work as well and put us in a difficult position. We have to make sure we bounce back well in Monza.”
Massa’s sixth place moves him ahead of Bottas in the Driver’s Championship, 82-79. Massa and Raikkonen are now level fourth on 82, with Bottas down to sixth on 79.
The team lost two points to Red Bull in the fight for third in the Constructor’s Championship. However Williams still leads that, 161-108.
Ryan Norman will return to Andretti Autosport for their third season together in 2019 after scoring his first win and first pole with that organization in 2018.
“I’m really excited to finally make it official that I’ll be returning to Andretti Autosport for my third season competing in Indy Lights,” said Norman in a press release. “We’ve built a solid foundation over the past two years and I’m ready to fight for wins, podiums and ultimately the championship, with such a great group of people who have become like a family to me.”
Norman finished 2018 fourth in the championship, earning his first career win in race 15 of the 17-race schedule at Gateway Motorsports Park in August.
Norman’s first pole came in the finale at Portland International Raceway in September, but he crashed on the first lap and finished last (8th).
“We’re very happy that Ryan is rejoining us for his third season of Indy Lights,” said Andretti Autosport President, JF Thormann. “We were pleased with his performance this past season, and his potential as a driver began to really shine after his win at Gateway. He’s right on track with his progression plan put together by his engineering team, and we feel strongly that he has what it takes to be a contender for the 2019 championship.”
Norman will essentially replace teammates Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta, who will race for Rookie of the Year honors in IndyCar next season. O’Ward finished first in the Indy Lights standings last year; Herta finished second.
Norman’s 2019 campaign will begin on the streets of St. Petersburgh, Florida March 9, 2019. That will be the first of a double-header with Race 2 running the following day.