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Wolff: Bottas doing a good job ‘filling Nico’s shoes’

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Yes, there hasn’t been a single Grand Prix run yet in 2017 and yes, it’s only been a few weeks since Valtteri Bottas has been formally confirmed as Nico Rosberg’s replacement at Mercedes AMG Petronas.

That said, it’s important to make a good first impression and Bottas has done so within the confines of his new team, Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief Toto Wolff said.

Bottas’ first few weeks with his new team will lay the groundwork for the start of his relationship with the team, which is just one year with options beyond 2017.

Wolff said in a video released by Mercedes on Tuesday that Bottas is doing just what’s being asked of him thus far.

“I think the balance between Valtteri and Lewis (Hamilton) works,” Wolff said.

“They’re two very different personalities. For us, it was important to fill Nico’s shoes. Nico had a certain role within the team and Valtteri pretty much fits into that.

“We believe that the interaction and dynamics will work well. They respect each other. So far from what I’ve seen, Valtteri has settled in well.”

Wolff attempted to reflect on the hectic offseason at Brackley and Brixworth, which has not only seen Rosberg ride off into the sunset, but also Paddy Lowe’s departure before his eventual arrival at Williams Martini Racing.

“There was not really time to relax and recharge the batteries!” Wolff admitted.

“The phone is one thing but there were many decisions that needed to be taken, and assessments to be made. Paddy going was another one.

“To make the team stronger, you need to be careful evaluating which steps we take. This is why every day is important.”

Wolff also touched on the new car progress, his thoughts on F1’s new owners Liberty Media Corporation, and other Mercedes-related motorsport topics. You can see the full video linked here.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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