GP2: Vandoorne claims fourth straight pole position in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI – McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne will start the final race of the 2014 GP2 Series season on pole position after edging out championship winner Jolyon Palmer in Abu Dhabi on Friday evening.

For the first time in GP2 history, a driver has secured four consecutive pole positions, with Vandoorne continuing his strong finish to the 2014 season at Yas Marina. His lap of 1:48.088 was good enough to secure him top spot on the timesheets, and allowed the ART driver to pit on his final flyer as the result was already secure.

Off the back of his title win in Russia, Palmer could only finish second, falling 0.099 seconds short of Vandoorne’s time. He will start ahead of DAMS teammate Stephane Richelmi and Russian Time’s Mitch Evans, who qualified in third and fourth place respectively.

Carlin’s Felipe Nasr ran well to qualify fifth in Abu Dhabi, but after losing out on the championship to Palmer in Russia, he now looks resigned to third place in the standings with Vandoorne just four points behind heading into tomorrow’s race.

Red Bull junior driver and Toro Rosso candidate Pierre Gasly enjoyed a strong result on Friday, qualifying sixth in Caterham Racing’s final race before its rebrand as Status Grand Prix for 2015. Arthur Pic starts seventh ahead of Raffaele Marciello and Stefano Coletti, with Rio Haryanto rounding out the top ten.

American driver Conor Daly returns for this weekend’s round in Abu Dhabi for Venezuela GP Lazarus, and will start from P20, having finished just three-tenths of a second shy of a top ten grid slot.

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).