Heartfelt Bottas plea to keep race at Sepang

KUALA LUMPUR • Mercedes AMG Petronas driver, Valtteri Bottas hopes Malaysia will continue to host Formula One (F1) races at the Sepang International Circuit since the venue is like home for the team.

Bottas said the team got a lot of support from Malaysian fans and it helped them win the title.

Last year, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz was reported saying that the country would stop hosting the F1 race after its contract ends next year, due to poor financial returns.

"I hope not (to stop the F1 in Malaysia), I like this track, I like to visit here. I love the weather and track is very challenging. Obviously this track is like the home ground for our team," Bottas told reporters during his appointment by Petronas as its global brand ambassador at the Petronas Twin Towers yesterday.

Commenting on his relationship with new team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Bottas said they had a very positive start in their first race.

"I think we will be able to work well as a team and push the team to work together," said the Finn. "We haven't raced very hard on the track but that time will come and I'm sure it will be professional."

He finished third behind three-time world champion Hamilton and Australia Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

Bottas is expecting another tough race during this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

"The track is completely different," said the 27-year-old. "We are still in a close fight with Ferrari but I think as a team, we can do better than Melbourne."

Antonio Giovinazzi will replace Pascal Wehrlein for the second race in a row and drive for Sauber at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Wehrlein is battling to regain fitness following a crash in January's Race of Champions event.

BERNAMA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Heartfelt Bottas plea to keep race at Sepang'. Print Edition | Subscribe