Sebastian Vettel to start United States GP from pit lane

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The FIA has confirmed that Sebastian Vettel will start this weekend’s United States Grand Prix from the pit lane after changing to a sixth complete power unit for the race in Austin.

For 2014, stricter engine regulations have come into force that penalize a driver for every extra component they use on the power unit above the allocation of five.

Vettel had been expected to change to a sixth complete power unit for this weekend’s race in Austin, and the FIA confirmed that this would be the case on Friday afternoon.

“Car #1 is required to start the race from the pit lane,” a statement from the stewards reads.

“The sixth complete power unit has been used by car #1. This is in breach of article 28.4 of the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.

“The requirement to start the race from the pit lane is imposed in accordance with article 28.4c. The team notified the technical delegate of the change to the power unit elements on Monday 27th October.”

As he will start the race from the pit lane, Vettel may opt not to complete any running during qualifying tomorrow at the Circuit of The Americas so that he can extend the life of the new unit.

Had he opted to change individual components on his engine, Vettel would have been hit with a 10-place grid penalty. However, as he is overhauling the entire unit, this harsher sanction has been imposed.

Should Vettel not take part in qualifying, just three cars will be at risk of being eliminated in Q1 in Austin after the FIA confirmed that it would be tweaking the qualifying format for the session on Saturday.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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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.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

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.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

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.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).