Sunday, February 28, 2021
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Bottas wins drama-filled season opener

Valtteri Bottas stayed calm in a stormy race to claim a measured victory for Mercedes as Formula One returned with a bang in a dramatic and season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Seven months after the final race of 2019, the Finn, who had started from the 12th pole position of his career, led from start to finish. Six-time champion Lewis Hamilton, who ended second, was given a five-second penalty and demoted to fourth. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was second while McLaren’s Lando Norris claimed his maiden podium.

Hamilton, hit with a pre-race grid penalty that dropped him from second to fifth, had clashed with Red Bull’s Alex Albon in the final laps, forcing the latter to spin off the track.

In a race which witnessed three Safety Car interventions and was run behind closed doors at the Red Bull Ring, the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz finished fifth in the second McLaren ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.

Pierre Gasly was seventh for Alpha Tauri and Esteban Ocon eighth on his return to racing with Renault ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo. Sebastian Vettel, the four-time champion in his final season at Ferrari, was 10th. The drivers all wore a black T-shirt with ‘End Racism’ written on it, but six of the 20 drivers did not take the knee. Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Daniil Kvyat, Antonio Giovinazzi and Carlos Sainz Jr. were those who did not.

The results: 1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:30:55.739; 2 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +2.700s; 3. Lando Norris (McLaren) +5.491s; Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +5.689s; 5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +8.903s; 6. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +15.092s; 7. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) +16.682s; 8. Esteban Ocon (Renault) +17.456s; 9. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) +21.146s; 10. Sebastian Vettel (+24.545s).

11. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +31.650s; 12. Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri) DNF; 13. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) DNF; Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) DNF; George Russell (Williams) DNF; Romain Grosjean (Haas); Kevin Magnussen (Haas); Lance Stroll (Racing Point); DNF; Daniel Ricciardo (Renault); Max Verstappen (Red Bull) DNF.

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