F1 Paddock Pass: Australian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Kicking off the new Formula 1 season in Melbourne, NBCSN’s Will Buxton brings you all of the latest news and insight ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in the first edition of digital series Paddock Pass.

In part one of this episode, we catch up with defending F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, who talks about his bid for a third title in 2015 and how he feels like “the hunter” ahead of the chasing pack.

Hamilton may be hoping for more of the same in 2015, but four-time champion Sebastian Vettel is hoping to make a clean break from last year’s form by moving to Scuderia Ferrari for the new season. We spoke with the German driver ahead of this weekend’s race about his first few months with the team, but who does he think the favorites for the championship are?

You can enjoy comprehensive coverage of the Australian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend. Click here to see our full broadcasting schedule for the race weekend.

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).