After flyaway races in Canada and Azerbaijan, Formula 1 returns to its European heartland this weekend with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.
The key talking point upon arrival in Austria was the fall-out from title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel’s clash two weeks ago in Baku, the pair making contact behind the safety car.
It acted as the first flashpoint in their erstwhile-cordial rivalry in 2017, stoking the fire nicely for another showdown in Austria.
Previewing this weekend’s grand prix in Spielberg with all of the latest news and interviews, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton brings you the latest edition of Paddock Pass.
Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.
More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.
Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.
He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.
“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.
“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”
Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”