Max Verstappen’s much-heralded Formula 1 debut ended in disappointment on Sunday when the Dutch youngster was forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix after 34 laps.
The 17-year-old set a new record for the youngest driver to start an F1 race in Melbourne, smashing Jaime Alguersuari’s existing record by 18 months.
After starting on the medium compound tire, Verstappen had been due to score points in his very first race. The Toro Rosso driver emerged from the pits on the soft compound tire in ninth place, with his sights set on the drivers ahead after making his final stop.
However, he soon reported that there was smoke in the car after exiting the pits, and eventually had to park up at the side of the track with 24 laps remaining in the race.
Verstappen has plenty of time to break the record for the youngest driver to score points in F1, but the Dutchman will be disappointed to have ended his grand prix debut in such fashion.
In contrast, fellow debutants Felipe Nasr and Carlos Sainz Jr. both managed to score points in Australia, finishing fifth and ninth respectively.
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.
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.
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.