Matthew Brabham joins list of St. Pete-only-thus far all-stars, with Andretti in Indy Lights

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What do Sage Karam, Simona de Silvestro and now Matthew Brabham have in common?

If you said they’re three young open-wheel talents, you’re right.

But the correct answer is that each is right now, only confirmed for the season-opening weekend at St. Petersburg next week.

Karam and de Silvestro will have one-off appearances, for now, with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and Andretti Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series, respectively.

Brabham will rejoin Andretti Autosport for a one-off, for now, drive in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship. His chief engineer from the Formula E campaign, Dave Seyffert, will be engineering the No. 83 car at St. Petersburg.

The Australian American is the 2012 USF2000 and 2013 Pro Mazda champion, and won a race in his rookie season of Indy Lights a year ago. He reunites with Shelby Blackstock, who was his Pro Mazda teammate in 2013.

Brabham has remained active in the FIA Formula E Championship, having driven two races for Andretti and also served as the team’s reserve and test driver.

“It’s brilliant that we have the opportunity to link up with Andretti Autosport again for this campaign,” said Brabham. “It has been a tough off-season trying to piece everything together, but thanks to the team and some close supporters, we’ll be at St Petersburg.

“Having won both races at St. Pete in Pro Mazda and being quite strong there last year, I’m confident of hitting the ground running. It’s a great track and I love street courses, so we’ll be aiming to be in the mix.”

Added team principal Michael Andretti, “It’s great to have Matt back in a seat within our Indy Lights program. He’s done a stellar job stepping up for us in the INDYCAR off-season in our Formula E team as reserve driver, but it will be great to see him back in Indy Lights alongside Shelby (Blackstock). Those two work well together and they will be ones to watch as they hit the streets of St. Pete.”

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).