Looking purely at the end results from the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Houston races of 11th and 16th for Graham Rahal, and a pair of failures to finish for Luca Filippi, it would be easy to say Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing struggled in the streets that surround NRG Park.
It really couldn’t be further from the truth.
Filippi starred in practice and qualifying, ultimately making his first Firestone Fast Six on Saturday morning. Meanwhile despite a stall in Race 1, Rahal drove back from 23rd to fourth in the mixed wet and drying conditions before his second-to-last lap contact with Tony Kanaan before Turn 10.
Sunday, too, Rahal seemed poised for a podium finish before ECU and gearbox issues struck him in the first 35 laps. He had easily his best starting position of the year after qualifying fourth.
Back to just the single No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda for Pocono this weekend, Rahal will run a camouflage National Guard livery. Perhaps it will be the good luck charm the team needs for an untroubled weekend filled with both a good qualifying and good race result.
“I love the current red, white and blue livery but it’s great to have a special one for the Fourth of July weekend,” Rahal said in a team release. “The camouflage is really a cool touch and I hope it connects with the men and women of the National Guard that we are honored to represent. As an American, racing on this particular weekend is very special and I think the car will look great on track!”
Rahal looks to improve upon his 16th place start and 18th place finish at Pocono last year.
SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.
The Formula One race 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.
Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.
Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.
But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.
It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.
Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.