Motor Sport

The fantastic Finn

October 16 - 22, 2019

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly The fantastic Finn

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport won the FIA Formula One Constructors’ Championship for the sixth time in a row after Valtteri Bottas swept into victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Finn crossed the line 11.3 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who also had to fend off Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps.

The result moved Mercedes 177 points clear of Ferrari, allowing them to wrap up a record-equalling sixth consecutive constructors’ crown, with a maximum 176 points from four races still to be won.

Hamilton and Bottas are the only two drivers who can still win the Drivers’ Championship, securing the sixth consecutive Drivers’ Title for the team as well.

Bottas, who claimed his sixth victory in F1, his third of the 2019 season and first at the Japanese Grand Prix, said: “Six double championships – every single team member at the race track and in the factories can be incredibly proud of this achievement! A big thank you to all of you!

“I think we don’t quite realise yet what an amazing achievement this is, but we’re making history in this sport. We’ve had a really good season so far and managed to make the most of our opportunities, especially in the beginning of the season. It’s amazing to think that we’ve just done something that’s never been done before – what a great day for all of us!”

Eric Blandin, Mercedes’ chief aerodynamicist, accepted the Constructors’ trophy on behalf of the team. Japan’s result also marked the 100th points finish for Bottas.

“I had an excellent start, one of the best ones in my career, and managed to take the lead in the very beginning,” he said. “We expected our car to be quick in the race, but it’s really tricky to overtake on this track, so we knew that we’d have to try and take the lead at the start and I’m very glad it all worked out. I really enjoyed the race afterwards; the car felt really good and our upgrades worked well. “Suzuka has always been my favourite track even though I’ve never been particularly strong here – but now I like this track even more. It’s been a while since my last victory, I missed that winning feeling and I’m very happy and proud to have won the race that secured us the Constructors’ Championship.”

Mercedes have now equalled Ferrari’s record of six constructors’ titles in a row between 1999 and 2004. The Italian team won five successive drivers’ crowns with Michael Schumacher from 2000 to 04.

Mercedes-AMG team CEO, Toto Wolff, was exhilarated from the victory. He said: “When we embarked on the journey six or seven years ago we wanted to win races more regularly and then fight for a Championship – and now, six years later, we won our sixth Championship in a row.

“We never thought this would be possible and I’m incredibly happy for everybody who has been a part of this journey. It’s not always been easy, the entire team put in a lot of hard work and we had our fair share of painful moments, but we were always able to pick ourselves up.”

The team has dedicated this sixth championship to three-time world champion Niki Lauda who passed away at the age of 70.

“This sixth Championship is a very special one – and we dedicate it to Niki,” said Wolff. “He has been such an important part from the beginning, and we all miss him dearly. I think about him every day and still find it hard to believe that he’s not here anymore. I keep thinking to myself: “What would Niki say, what would he think?”. “He probably would have said: “Congratulations for the sixth one, but you have a challenge on your hands for next year”.

“It was his way of making sure that we’re never complacent. It has been an emotional rollercoaster. We were disappointed in the morning because we weren’t quick enough in qualifying and now we’ve won the race and also both Championships – which is still hard to fully grasp.”

Bottas takes nine points out of Hamilton’s title lead – reducing his deficit to 64 points – but the Englishman will have a chance to secure a sixth drivers’ title at the Mexican Grand Prix on October 27.

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