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Losing Spa podium late on ‘a big disappointment’ for Bottas

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Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas was left disappointed after dropping from third to fifth place in the closing stages of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, losing more ground in the drivers’ championship in the process.

Bottas had been sitting third after the sole expected round of pit stops was completed at Spa, only for a safety car period to prompt the leaders to come in for a second change of tires.

The Finn struggled to get heat into his fresh soft Pirellis, causing him to lose traction out of La Source on the restart and miss out on some straight-line speed for the Kemmel Straight.

As a result, both Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen were able to fly past, dropping Bottas to fifth where he remained to the end of the race.

“Today’s race and result were a big disappointment. It’s been an all-around difficult weekend for me,” Bottas conceded after the race.

“It would have been nice to at least be on the podium and score good points for us as a team. After the Safety Car restart I was on the soft tires, but the guys who overtook me were on the ultra-softs. I was on the back foot, struggled with grip and could not fight them.

“In the race the softs are working well for us, but during a Safety Car restart there’s always a risk that other guys might have softer compounds. In a normal race we would have had an optimal tire strategy.

“This has been the most difficult weekend for me, so I need to learn a lot from it because I wasn’t quick enough.

“I need to analyze my mistakes quickly, and then hopefully come back stronger next week in Monza.”

Bottas now trails Sebastian Vettel by 41 points at the top of the drivers’ championship standings, the biggest the gap has been since June’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.