© Getty Images

Mallya: Perez and Hulkenberg signed to Force India for 2017

1 Comment

Sergio Perez and Force India will remain with Force India for the 2017 Formula 1 season, according to team owner Vijay Mallya.

Perez and Hulkenberg joined Force India at the beginning of 2014, working together to take the team to its best finish in the F1 constructors’ championship last year.

Both drivers were linked with moves away from the team for 2017, Perez being tipped as a possible replacement for Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari.

However, Mallya confirmed in Friday’s FIA press conference at Silverstone that both drivers had been firmed up for next year.

“We are very happy with Nico and Checo [Perez]. Both are signed for 2017 and really I haven’t thought about it beyond that,” Mallya said.

“We are very early, much earlier than normal, because usually we wait until the winter before announcing our drivers.

“This time we signed both for 2017 well in advance and of course today’s announcement from Ferrari [confirming Raikkonen] put to rest a lot of speculation that has been taking place in the last few weeks.”

The British Grand Prix marked Mallya’s first appearance in the paddock this season, as he is unable to travel due to legal issues in his native India.

“I’m absolutely delighted and over the moon to be here in Silverstone. It’s a very special race track for Force India,” Mallya said.

“I’m personally delighted to be here as all the other races I have virtually experienced them [because] sadly I am currently unable to travel.

“Since I am now spending my time in England, it’s far more regulated, less hectic. I’m doing what I’m passionate about and one thing I’m passionate about is Force India.

“I get a lot of pleasure out of it and the team is delivering results.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
1 Comment

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).