Bottas enters thick of F1 title fight after Austria win, ‘loving every moment’

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Valtteri Bottas entered the thick of the Formula 1 championship fight by taking his second win of the season on Sunday in Austria, giving the Finn the belief he can battle with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas fended off Vettel in the dying stages at the Red Bull Ring to hold on and take victory for Mercedes, harking back to his maiden F1 win in Russia earlier this year.

Bottas had controlled the race and was more than eight seconds clear of Vettel at one stage, only for a bold strategy from Ferrari to bring the German driver back into contention.

“I had a bit of a déjà vu in the end with what happened in Russia, he was catching up. The problem in the last stint, I had a massive blister on the rear left since lap five of that stint, so that made it quite tricky,” Bottas explained on the podium.

“In the beginning I could control the pace, but in the end the backmarkers made it quite tricky. Really happy, it’s only my second win in my career. Thank you guys for the support. Massive thank you to the team for making this possible, so thank you guys.

“It’s still a long year ahead. We’re not even halfway. This makes good for the points, but it’s still early days and we’re still developing as a team.”

The result saw Bottas draw to within 35 points of Vettel at the front of the drivers’ championship, and is now just 15 back from Hamilton, who has been perceived to be leading Mercedes’ charge this season.

When asked about a title bid, Bottas said: “We’re not even in the halfway of the year, so definitely I believe and the team believes.

“Still a long year ahead. Like I said, we are still developing. I’m just loving every moment and it’s going to be good.”

Despite his jovial mood on the podium, Bottas could not be persuaded to be inducted into the ‘shoey’ club by Daniel Ricciardo, instead hurrying away with his trophy in hand.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.