Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service

Rossi: A Sochi win, and full-on prep for Austin

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And so it continues, still lots of work to do but I left Sochi feeling good about the momentum and another win leading into the final GP2 rounds in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

I really enjoy racing on street circuits and Racing Engineering did an awesome job all weekend to help me put my third win in three race weekends on the board. It wasn’t quite enough to delay Stoffel’s celebrations, but full congratulations to him for his 2015 Championship – it’s been a fantastic battle with him all year. Now that the title pressure is off and we’re so close to locking up second in the championship, I’m really looking forward to the final GP2 races in November.

It was an interesting weekend, to say the least! We had some issues to sort out in practice and quali was wet, which was good for me. I qualified third and on the delta my last lap was quickest by a big margin, but unfortunately because of traffic in sector two, I was unable to improve from third.

The start was good on Saturday and I was straight into second place, but then the red flag from the shemozzle behind stopped everything for just over 30 minutes while they sorted out the problems on track.

When something like that happens the team has to work super efficiently, so the strategy shifted a little for us as the sun was beginning to set. On another note, it was also impressive to see how efficiently the marshals coped with that sort of problem, as we saw in F1 as well with Carlos and Romain over the weekend.

They’re kind of like the mechanics, another group of people without whom we simply couldn’t go racing, and all too often they don’t get the credit they deserve for doing such a great job. Many of them travel around the world to work at different events and my thanks goes to them for helping us do our jobs, safely and securely.

Back to racing… We started again behind the safety car and I was right up with Alex Lynn and ready for my chance when he pitted. He came in and I pushed hard, setting fastest laps with a car that felt really good at that stage of the race. Then I pitted and came out again right with Alex but his tires were already up to temperature so the fight was on again and I applied pressure for the lead. We had a great fight going and with three laps to go I was able to take advantage of a mistake he made, finishing the race just over three seconds ahead of Gasly and Stoffel behind.

Winning race one meant I started the sprint race on Sunday in eighth with the reverse grid. This was a much more uneventful race, finishing sixth, with no pit stops and struggling a bit with rear grip from the start of the race. But, all in all it was a great weekend and lots of points on the board.

Up next, I’m heading home and to the USGP with the Manor Marussia F1 Team for the 2015 US Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

I have a very busy week in the UK before I fly out to America. I’m splitting my time between F1 race preparations; physical training, engineering programs and a lot of media scheduled both in the UK and New York before Austin comes around.

It’s great to see the support that F1 has around the world, and I’m doing my bit to help make sure as many people as possible know about what a great show Circuit of The Americas will be putting on.

Obviously Austin and the US Grand Prix means I’ll be back in my F1 seat. I’ve driven the track in a variety of vehicles, including a Lotus 49 which I was privileged to drive around there a couple of years back. I also took part in various FP1s for Caterham when they were in F1. 2015 will be my first time around COTA in the current generation F1 power units.

COTA is right up there as one of the best anywhere in the world. I mean that, it has it all! The first sector in particular is great – there’s a few different lines through turn one which climbs up a very steep gradient and then into a pretty tight left, and then the whole section from turn two through turn 10 is awesome. It’s technical, quick and you have to let the car flow through each turn to make sure you maintain momentum.

Out of 11 there’s a long and flat out straight, and then it’s into a stadium section that’s kind of like Hockenheim, except quicker. There are fans in the grandstands all around turns 12, 13, 14 and 15 and then you’re into the final sector and the run to the flag.

I hope to see you there! Book yourself a trip to Austin and come see F1 Texas style.

PREVIOUS BLOGS

Rossi: Looking ahead to Russia and returning to GP2
Rossi: Reflecting on my first two F1 races

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).