GP of Indy: Rookie pilot Jack Hawksworth impressive in Top-10 run

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A series of mid-race cautions ultimately caused Jack Hawksworth to fade to a seventh-place finish in today’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – a result that does not fully represent how strong the Verizon IndyCar Series rookie was in regards to pace.

After starting on the front row, Hawksworth passed Hunter-Reay for the lead shortly after the field went back to green following the ill-fated standing start.

But instead of the American veteran reeling him back in, Hawksworth pulled away and kept the point through after the first cycle of green-flag pit stops around the Lap 25-30 range.

By the halfway point, Hawksworth was leading the race by four seconds before the caution came out at Lap 42 for Scott Dixon getting turned around after a battle with Will Power.

While Hawksworth and eventual race winner Simon Pagenaud went in for service, Hunter-Reay chose to stay out and inherited the lead.

Hawksworth restarted ninth but the aforementioned mid-race incidents – which included a crash involving Martin Plowman and Franck Montagny with 34 laps left and another involving Graham Rahal on the subsequent restart – forced the team to try and make strategy work for them.

That didn’t happen, but Hawksworth still was able to garner his first Top-10 finish in the IndyCars after pacing 31 of 82 laps and setting the second-fastest lap of the Grand Prix.

“We got into the lead at the beginning, opened up a gap and we were controlling the race pretty well from what I could see,” he said in a post-race statement. “I felt like we had it all under control and then we got a bit hosed from that yellow.

“The strategy calls were a bit tricky but overall, the car was great to drive. The team gave me a great car all day. We certainly deserved, on pace, a better result than what we got there but we gave it our all.

“We fought back and at least we got the points for seventh place. The pace is there so we’ll come back and try to get after it again.”

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.