Tire blunder costs Bottas, Williams at Spa (VIDEO)

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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.

Starting lineup for 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona

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Defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing will be on the pole position in the starting lineup for the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona, seeking to begin a new era in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship the same way the team started the last.

The No. 60 Acura bookended the 2022 season with victories in the Rolex 24 (the second for team co-owner Mike Shank) and the Petit Le Mans season finale, winning the final championship in the DPi class.

The premier prototype category has been rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype and will feature new hybrid engines that have doubled the number of manufacturers competing for the overall victory. With Acura and Cadillac returning from DPi last season, Porsche and BMW also will enter GTP for the 24-hour season opener Jan. 28-29 (which will be broadcast and streamed across NBC, USA and Peacock).

STARTING GRID: Click here for the Rolex 24 lineup l Lineup by car number

ROLEX 24 DETAILSHow to watch, entry lists schedules for the IMSA season opener

After Tom Blomqvist won his fourth career pole in IMSA’s top class and the third for the team in the Rolex 24, MSR’s No. 60 Acura ARX-06 will start first ahead of the No. 7 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsports.

The No. 10 Acura ARX-06 of Waye Taylor Racing will start third, followed by the No. 01 Cadillac V-LMDh of Cadillac Racing with Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac Racing’s No. 02 V-LMDh.

The No. 31 Cadillac V-LMDh of Whelen Engineering Action Express Racing will start sixth ahead of BMW M Team RLL’s pair of BMW M Hybrid V8s.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

Porsche Penske Motorsport’s No. 6 Porsche 963 will start last among the nine GTP cars after crashing in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course.

The No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA will start 10th after winning the LMP2 pole position.

Starting positions for pole-sitters in other categories: the No. 33 Ligier JS P320 of Seach Creech Motosport (LMP3) will start 20th, the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Winward Racing will start 29th, and the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GTE of WeatherTech Racing will start 32nd.

Click here for the Rolex 24 at Daytona starting lineup grid

Click here for the Rolex 24 at Daytona starting lineup grid by car number