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.”

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”