Bottas escapes penalty, but not blame, for Verstappen, Raikkonen clash

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Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen started third through fifth in today’s Spanish Grand Prix, but their races all were compromised as a result of a three-wide passing attempt off the start that went awry into Turn 1.

Both Bottas and Raikkonen got good starts with Raikkonen having done a better job to get to Bottas’ outside after the run to the tight, 90-degree right-hander that opens the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

But worse for Raikkonen was that Verstappen had moved to Raikkonen’s outside, and once Bottas darted to the inside it was three-wide going into Turn 1.

Bottas knocked into Raikkonen, who then knocked into Verstappen. Both Raikkonen and Verstappen were done shortly thereafter, while Bottas went through without damage.

The race stewards investigated first the Raikkonen and Verstappen portion of the incident, and later Bottas’ role in it, but took no further action after the chain reaction contact.

It didn’t mean Bottas escaped blame, though, as both of last year’s top two finishers in Spain opted to blame the Russian Grand Prix winner for the contact.

“I think you could clearly see what happened. Valtteri hit Kimi, and it was difficult for Kimi to control the car,” Verstappen told NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race. “Normally three cars (wide) is doable. If we didn’t touch, we would have given space in the next corner.

“It was a bit unfortunate. When you’re on the outside it’s tricky. I gave Kimi room on the inside but he got slammed into me. Last year I had a bit of luck and today was a bit unlucky.”

Raikkonen was, perhaps true to form, even more succinct about what happened from his vantage point.

“I got hit by Bottas, then my car went into Verstappen,” Raikkonen told Buxton.

Bottas didn’t have much to add later on, as he was more disappointed after his engine expired just past half distance, which cost him a likely third place finish and Mercedes key points in the Constructor’s Championship.

With these three drivers knocked out, it opened the door for Daniel Ricciardo to get on the podium in third place, albeit more than a minute behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who dominated the race between them and finished first and second.

Raikkonen at least had one small upside to his day, meeting a young Ferrari fan who was disappointed he got knocked out just after the start.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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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

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

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.