Felipe Nasr stars on debut to finish fifth for Sauber

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Sauber F1 Team ended a difficult week in Australia with an outstanding double-points score as Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson finished fifth and eighth respectively in Melbourne on Sunday.

There had been some uncertainty surrounding the team’s entry into this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix due to an ongoing court case with former reserve driver Giedo van der Garde.

On Saturday, a ceasefire was called by the Dutchman in the best interests of the sport, allowing Sauber to focus on its participation in the race on Sunday.

After making a good start in the race, Nasr produced a superb display for Sauber to finish fifth in his very first Formula 1 grand prix ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

“I am very happy with fifth position in my first ever Formula 1 race,” Nasr said. “It is such a big relief for the team and myself that we are able to score points, and I am very pleased about this achievement.

“It was a tough race. Right after the start it was quite messy in turn one, as another driver hit my wheel. I thought the car was damaged a bit, but after a few laps I noticed everything was fine.

“After that, the race went according to plan. There was pressure from behind during the whole race, which was not easy. That was an emotional race for me and everyone in the team.”

Nasr’s result was backed up by Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson, who scored his first ever points in F1 by finishing eighth in Melbourne.

“First of all, the team has done a great job over the winter,” Ericsson said. “It is amazing for everyone in the team here in Melbourne and also back home in the factory to get this result in the first race weekend of the 2015 season.

“We have seen good progress during pre-season testing, and with this achievement I am really happy for everyone. For me as a driver, I have scored my first points in Formula 1, which is a big goal achieved. Now, we can build on this for the next race.”

This double score will come as a huge relief to Sauber, given that the team failed to pick up a single point in the entirety of last season, which went down as its worst in F1.

2015 appears to hold better on-track prospects, and once the legal wranglings with van der Garde are resolved, Sauber can look to push on and continue to improve throughout the season.

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).