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July 6, 2020

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Bottas wins Austrian GP as season starts

Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening Austrian Grand Prix yesterday while Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late-time penalty.

Bottas took a knee as he received the winner’s trophy and the podium trio held up a black T-shirt with “End Racism” written on it.

The race at the Spielberg circuit was interrupted three times by a safety car and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon — who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

“I dodged a few bullets today,” Bottas said after the eighth F1 win of his career.

Hamilton was given a five-second time penalty for causing the collision — dropping from second to fourth — having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

Although Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama at the Red Bull Ring ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc of Monaco took second place for Ferrari and Lando Norris third for McLaren.

“It felt like a victory today. Second place is something I never would have expected,” said Leclerc, who started from seventh. “I will rate this as one of my best races, I didn’t do many mistakes.”

Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures — and threw social distancing out of the window amid the euphoria as CEO Zak Brown hugged everyone in sight — with third place.

His jubilation was understandable.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium and his superb final lap was the fastest of an exciting opening race. Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third youngest ever in F1. Only Verstappen and Lance Stroll were younger.

Norris said: “I’m speechless — there were a few points where I thought I had fudged it. I am so proud of the team for coming back from where we were a couple of years ago.”

All drivers wore “End Racism” T-shirts before the race, but six drivers did not take the knee.

Verstappen was chasing a hat trick of wins in Spielberg, but his race ended early with a power failure. Sebastian Vettel’s miserable form from last season carried over as the German Ferrari driver finished 10th.

Bottas made a strong start from pole position while Verstappen just held off Norris.

Hamilton took four laps to overtake Norris and move into fourth, and another five to overtake Thai Albon in third. But he was gifted a position as Verstappen ground to a halt moments later.

Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean (Haas), Stroll (Racing Point), George Russell (Williams), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri) also retired.


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