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GP Week : Issue 164
BRIEFLY » In the short break between Hockenheim and Hungary Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso paid a visit to the victims of May’s Italian earthquakes. More than 13,000 people were forced from their homes in the wake of the quakes, and continue to live in camps and temporary accommodation as their homes were destroyed. Many of the buildings left standing have been declared unsafe. “We felt the need to come to see you in such a difficult time for you because, even if we are physically nearby, we are also with you in our thoughts,” Alonso said in a speech at the Cavezzo camp in the Bassa Modenese region. “We want to make you feel the support of the drivers and everyone at Ferrari because we are with you and you shouldn’t forget that.” Massa added: “To see what has happened with our own eyes is very moving. “Here time has stood still but it must get back going again as soon as possible.” Last month, Ferrari raised more than €1 million for the earthquake victims via a special auction. » It’s that time of year again. With silly season in full swing, and any driver not under contract currently linked to a seat at Ferrari, the rumour mill is going at full pelt. One of the latest tales to do the rounds concerns discontent in the ranks at Caterham – by all accounts, Heikki Kovalainen is making himself unpopular with the team thanks to constant chatter about a likely move next season. But the Finnish driver’s recent comments on his F1 future have all made it clear that his first priority is listening to what Caterham have to offer – Kovalainen is not actively seeking a drive elsewhere. “I think it’s the time of the season where you hear a lot of rumours regarding a lot of drivers, and for me nothing has changed at the moment,” he said in Budapest. “The only focus is improving our team and our car, and making the best out of what we’ve got. Then at some point we’ll sit down with my management and sit down with Caterham first and then see what we’ll do for the future.” Williams’ third driver Valtteri Bottas says he’s ready to step up to a race seat, and hopes to build a long-term career with the British team. The Finn was ninth fastest in this morning’s practice session in Hungary, taking Bruno Senna’s car and setting a dry weather lap 1.3 seconds behind pacesetter Lewis Hamilton. It is Bottas’ eighth Friday appearance this year, and he’s beaten team-mate Pastor Maldonado’s best laptime on five of those occasions, including Friday. “ItwasagooddayforusandIwas lucky with the weather. I’m improving every session, and I think I didn’t expect to be on the pace so quickly,” Bottas told GPWEEK. “It’s good that I can match [Maldonado] and sometimes beat him, and there’s a lot more to come if I get to drive more.” The 22-year-old, who lives near the Williams factory in Oxford, signed with the team in 2010 before winning last year’s GP3 championship. With this year focused on his role as a reser ve, and taking 15 of the 20 Friday practice sessions from Senna, he’s itching to step up to a coveted race seat. Waiting patiently, he says, is not easy. “I’ve raced all my life, basically. For sure, I would like to race next year. Now is the time to learn and hopefully races come at some point. It’s what I’m pushing for.” Ideally, he says, the opportunity to race will come with Williams. “I really enjoying working with these people, and Williams has a great history. I feel at home here. The ideal would be to stay here and I hope for a long career with Williams.” Both Maldonado and Senna come with strong commercial backing, which was instrumental in their recruitment. “It helps if you have some financial backing, and of course we’re pushing for that,” confirms Bottas. Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix in May, marking Williams’ first win since 2003. Williams have previously won seven drivers’ and nine constructors’ titles, but had been in the doldrums for the past decade. Since Spain, the team has struggled to score more points. Bottas says that’s not the fault of the car. “We’re improving and we’re understanding the car much more than at the beginning of the year. If we keep pushing I think we can still score some proper points.” Maldonado, who has had a series of run-ins with Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton, and earned a drive-thru penalty in Budapest for banging into Paul di Resta, hasn’t scored a point since that first win six races ago. “I think we’ve been really unlucky the last few weekends,” says Bottas. “I think we could have got more points if we’d got everything right.” BOTTAS IMPATIENT TO TAKE WILLIAMS RACE SEAT F1 >>> NEWS 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: