Marcos Ambrose has quiet first practice for V8 Supercars finale in Sydney

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It was an uneventful return for erstwhile NASCAR racer Marcos Ambrose to the Australian V8 Supercars series in Sydney.

Ambrose, who’s driving in this weekend’s V8 season finale ahead of a full-time V8 ride in 2015 for DJR Team Penske, was 24th on the time sheets in the opening practice for the Sydney 500.

However, not much should be placed on the result as Ambrose has never competed on the Sydney course, which runs through the city’s Olympic Park area.

Thus, the first session was simply about getting acquainted with the track and re-acquainted with a V8 cockpit in general.

Three races will be held this weekend – a pair of 125-kilometer sprints tonight and a 250-kilometer feature on Saturday night.

Ambrose posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 29.559 seconds in his No. 66 Xbox Australia Ford Falcon on Friday, which was well behind the day’s top time of 1 minute, 28.1214 seconds from James Courtney in his Holden Commodore.

Still, Ambrose considered the outing a success.

“It has been a great day for us really,” he said after practice. “Just to get re-acclimatized with a V8 Supercar in competition and on a tough track like Homebush has been good. I have just taken my time with it today, but we will know where we stack up tomorrow when we bolt on new tires.”

Ambrose is hopeful to qualify decently for the two sprint races, which are scheduled to take place later tonight (Saturday in Oz) at 10:30 p.m. and 12:50 a.m. ET. He’s also looking to shore up his braking skills in the Falcon as he gets used to the course.

“Here, at a street track, there’s no room for error,” he said to the V8 website. “I’m trying to creep up on the brakes but it’s kind of hard to here because the corners are hard to see and I just don’t know the limits.

“I haven’t raced here to know, as the track gets better, my brakes aren’t keeping up with it. I’ve just got to get that feel and once I do, I’ll be fine.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

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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).