Marcos Ambrose suffers sub-par results in V8 Sydney sprints

11 Comments

Former NASCAR racer Marcos Ambrose logged his first set of Australian V8 Supercar races in more than nine years at the Sydney 500 overnight.

The ex-Richard Petty Motorsports man crashed in qualifying before the first of two 125-kilometer sprint races on Saturday, forcing him to start Race 1 from the back. Issues with the braking set-up on his No. 66 Xbox Ford Falcon hampered the Tasmanian and forced him to finish 20th.

Race 2 saw Ambrose peel off three positions by Turn 1 at the start but that was immediately ruined by a tap from another competitor that spun him around. Ambrose quickly recovered, but a major storm soon forced race officials to throw the red flag at Lap 19.

The cars would get back on track behind the safety car but never resumed racing, and Ambrose had to take a 22nd place result.

“It hasn’t been the day we were hoping for,” Ambrose said. “It started with my mistake completely in qualifying. I missed a shift and caused some trouble damaging the right front. So we started off the back for both races. I had good starts both times which is a positive, I guess, and did have good car speed when we were running in clean air.

“It is very tough to pass here so I am really learning on the run. The rain made it pretty interesting too.”

Ambrose will try to salvage the weekend with a solid result in the 250-kilometer feature. Qualifying for that race is set for tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET with the main event later on at 11:40 p.m. ET.

“We are going to change the brakes around and see if we can get a bit more comfort there for me,” he said of how he and his DJR Team Penske squad plan to regroup. “That is the biggest area, as I just can’t seem to stop the car consistently well. Our target is to qualify in the teens…and we will work on the set up again tonight.”

Jamie Whincup, who has already clinched the 2014 driver’s championship, swept both of Saturday’s sprint races.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
1 Comment

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).