Bottas hails ‘important’ Abu Dhabi win to end F1 2017 on a high

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Valtteri Bottas felt his victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was “really important” after ending a four-month win drought to finish the 2017 season on a high.

Bottas managed to convert pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit into his third career victory, soaking up race-long pressure from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to finish 3.8 seconds clear at the checkered flag.

The result saw Bottas end a winless run stretching back to the Austrian Grand Prix in July, offering a boost heading into the off-season.

“It is really important win for me after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year, working hard on all the issues and getting better and better with everything,” Bottas said.

“This weekend, I couldn’t be happier to end the season like this. Obviously, congrats to Lewis for the title, congrats to Sebastian [Vettel] for the second place in the championship.

“I was third this year – hopefully better next year.”

Hamilton drew close to Bottas on two separate occasions during the race before dropping back, but the Finn was happy with the execution of his victory.

“I was really managing the pace and that way the race, that was the feeling,” Bottas said. “It was a nice feeling. I had one bit of a lock up as I was approaching one of the lapped cars, but otherwise no issues.

“The last five laps I started to go a bit quicker, managed to build a gap. I am really pleased, the car was so good.

“You know we Finns we maybe do not show emotion, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have any. I’m so happy.

“There’s been so much support from my family and everyone, so yeah. I can’t show it too much but I feel good.”

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”