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Nationalism not key to Gene Haas in Formula 1

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Gene Haas says that nationalism is not a key focus for his new Formula 1 team following its first public run-out this week during pre-season testing.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas will take his team onto the grid for the 2016 season, marking the first entry by an American team in over 30 years.

The car is sporting an American flags on the turning vanes on either side of the car, and was expected to sign an American driver.

However, the team ultimately plumped for France’s Romain Grosjean and Mexico’s Esteban Gutierrez, both of whom have prior F1 experience.

Speaking earlier this week, Haas said that although having an American driver in the car would be good for the team, he is not primarily concerned with nationalism when it comes to racing in F1.

“I think [an American driver] would be the ultimate, but like anything else, we want to put the best pieces that we can obtain,” Haas said.

“Right at the moment we felt like having a really experienced driver like Grosjean who’s French was the best nut to put on the steering wheel. That’s what we’re doing.

“We’re not kind of looking at nationalism when we put this team together, we’re looking at obtaining the best possible people and products and engines and transmissions that we can so that we can win races. That’s what we’re here for, we’re here to win races. We’re not here to do it the hard way.

“Certainly we like to be an American team, whatever we can do to promote that, but we haven’t specifically gone out there to say we’re doing this because we’re an American team.

“We’re doing this because we’re in motor racing and we just happen to be an American team.”

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

HISTORY IN SIGHTLewis Hamilton aims to tie Michael Schumacher’s record

The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.