Bottas and Gasly feel the heat
Underperforming F1 drivers face uncertain futures at Mercedes and Red Bull
Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly may find it harder than other drivers to unwind as Formula One enters its August pit stop.
Neither did themselves any favours in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix and both face uncertain futures at Mercedes and Red Bull, respectively.
Bottas is out of contract at the end of the season as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes and the Finn faces competition from the dominant champions’ young French reserve Esteban Ocon.
Team boss Toto Wolff told reporters a decision will be made in August, with the evaluation process starting on Monday. “We will not be letting one race result influence our decision… it’s not going to be an easy one,” Wolff added, emphasising that the data will be crunched and a full risk and reward assessment carried out.
That may sound like welcome news for Bottas, who started on the front row on Sunday and finished eighth to slip 62 points behind Hamilton after 12 of the 21 races.
But the weekend before, he crashed out in the wet at Hockenheim while on for a podium and with Hamilton seemingly out of the points. And on Sunday first-lap contact with Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc forced him to pit early and fight back from last.
Bottas, who gets on well with Hamilton and the team, will be hoping he can celebrate his 30th birthday at the end of August with another vote of confidence.
“I’m not really nervous,” said the winner of two races in 2019, compared with Hamilton’s eight. “But for sure it would be nice to hear some news when the team decides what they want to do. What can I do? I don’t think it’s going to change anything, one race.”
Gasly is in a similar bind to Bottas, up against a teammate who is operating in another dimension. The Frenchman was lapped by Verstappen on Sunday, not for the first time, and ended up sixth with ever more questions being asked about his longevity in a team not known for tolerance.
Verstappen has won two of the last four races, finishing second from pole on Sunday, and has scored 114 points more than his teammate. To ram home the disparity, Verstappen has scored more points in the last four races than Gasly has managed in 12.
SCHUMACHER JUNIOR TAKES MAIDEN F2 VICTORY
Mick Schumacher, son of seven-times Formula One champion Michael, took his first Formula Two victory in Hungary on Sunday.
The 20-year-old German started from pole position on a reverse grid after finishing eighth in Saturday’s feature race and led all the way to the chequered flag at the Hungaroring, where his father won four times.
The Ferrari academy driver raised a huge cheer as he took the chequered flag in front of a crowd containing plenty of the Italian team’s fans ahead of the Formula One race later on Sunday.
“It is very special,” he said of a win at the circuit where his father, who has not been seen in public since he suffered head injuries in a 2013 skiing accident, clinched his fourth title in 2001 with Ferrari.
Schumacher, F3 winner in 2018 and tipped for an eventual future in Formula One, had previously not finished higher than fourth in Formula Two. The breakthrough victory comes after Schumacher drove his father’s 2004 title-winning Formula One Ferrari in a demonstration at the German Grand Prix in July.
MARQUEZ BAGS HIS 50TH MOTOGP WIN
Honda’s world champion Marc Marquez won the rain-affected Czech MotoGP in Brno on Sunday, his sixth victory of the season, and became only the fourth rider to achieve 50 premier-class victories.
Marquez, who equalled Australian Mick Doohan’s record of 58 top-class pole positions on Saturday, finished ahead of Ducati’s Italian Andrea Dovizioso and Jack Miller of the non-works Pramac Ducati team.
The other three riders to achieve at least 50 premier-class wins are Valentino Rossi (89), Giacomo Agostini (68) and Doohan (54).
“It’s important but I don’t like to compare, they are legends of this sport,” Marquez told BT Sport when he was informed of his milestone. “I’m just going to keep pushing … keep the same mentality, same ambition from the beginning until the end.”
Spaniard Marquez now leads the MotoGP championship with 210 points, 63 ahead of second-placed Dovizioso (147). Danilo Petrucci, who finished eighth in Brno, is third (129).
Wet track conditions led to a delayed start after the entire field chose to run on slick tyres and when the race got under way there were retirements in the opening lap after Joan Mir and Franco Morbidelli collided and ended up in the gravel.
The lead pair of Marquez and Dovizioso were closely followed by Alex Rins and Miller while Rossi, who finished sixth, was involved in a battle with Aleix Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow in the chasing pack.
The top four riders were separated by just one second but, once the sun came out, Marquez slowly pulled away from the pack and extended his lead to 2.5 seconds over Dovizioso with four laps to go.
The next race is the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday.
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