Valtteri Bottas: No special meaning to fastest Barcelona F1 test time

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Valtteri Bottas has played down his charge to the top of the timesheets in the opening Formula 1 pre-season test in Barcelona this week, saying the result has “no special meaning”.

Bottas made his first public appearance with Mercedes in Barcelona earlier this week following his winter move from Williams, replacing world champion Nico Rosberg.

Bottas chalked up the fastest time of the four-day test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with his effort of 1:19.705 from Wednesday being two-tenths of a second quicker than any other driver.

However, the Finn played down the importance of the result, with the number of miles Mercedes racked up with the new W08 EQ Power+ car being the bigger victory in his eyes.

“It does not have any special meaning because it’s only testing and there’s no reward for that,” Bottas stressed.

“We weren’t particularly focusing on lap times this week. The main priority for us was to get the mileage, find any issues with the car, if there was anything to come from that side, because we’d rather have them here than in the races.

“For me it was important to get the mileage, so I was pretty happy we could manage plenty of running and, at the same time, go through the test program of the team.

“I think, overall, it was a very good week and I learned a lot. I got plenty of laps, so the times for me and for the team, they are what they are. Maybe next week we can do a little bit of an analysis of where we are, but what matters is what people will take to Melbourne.”

Having spent all of his F1 career prior to the move to Mercedes with Williams, Bottas admitted that he is still adjusting to life with the defending champion team, but is growing in comfort at Brackley.

“I definitively feel more comfortable and more part of the team every day, I already feel good,” Bottas said.

“For example, getting in this morning and having breakfast here it already felt normal, so that’s a good feeling.

“But there’s definitively a big difference compared to last week, because this was the first proper time of working as unit, as a team, on track, with the engineers, finding performance, and I learned very much from it every day.

“I still think there’s work to do, as changing teams is maybe a slightly bigger thing than I initially thought it would be. But it’s not a hurdle than you cannot go over.

“I think it’s definitely something that I can do and I’ve been working flat out since the announcement to get comfortable with everything.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.